Wondering who Andre the Giant was? He was one of the most extraordinary wrestlers to ever exist. This unique wrestler stood out from the crowd with his towering height and giant physique.
His appearance would make him popular throughout the globe. Unfortunately, he would also meet an early grave due to the same unique features.
1. Andre’s birth
Andre the Giant was born on 19th May 1946 in Coulommiers, France. Andre’s actual name was Andre Rene Rousimoff.
His mother Mariann Rousimoff was an immigrant from Poland, while his father Boris Rousimoff was from Bulgaria. When he was born, Andre weighed about 13 pounds, which is the equivalent of 6 kg.
2. Early life
Andre was the third of five siblings. He had a childhood nickname, Dede. Andre and his family lived in a small town in France called Molien. He attended school until he was 14 years old.
While going to school, Andre would sometimes get rides from a popular playwright called Samuel Beckett.
3. Andre’s Gigantism
Andre had a condition called gigantism, which results in excessive growth of the body. At 12 years old, the boy was already 6 feet and 3 inches tall.
His parents had average heights, with his father standing at 6 feet 2 inches. His mother was 5 feet and 2 inches tall.
4. End of school life
Andre’s school life ended when he was 14 years old. Compulsory schooling ended at 14 years in France during that period.
Andre then decided not to pursue further education. He ended up working on his father’s farm. He had extraordinary strength and could work like three adult men on the farm.
5. Weight and height
Andre’s exact height remains quite unclear. His passport stated he was 7 feet 2 inches tall, while throughout his career he was described as 7 feet 4 inches tall.
Andre’s weight also remains disputed. According to some reports, Andre weighed 520 lbs. or 236kg. on the other hand, other reports state he weighed 380 lbs. to 555 lbs.
6. Early wrestling career
When he was 18, Andre relocated to Paris, where he met Robert Lageat. Robert taught Andre professional wrestling.
The young boy would train at night and work during the day. Andre earned the name “Giant Ferre” from the French hero Grand Ferre. He began to wrestle locally in Paris and surrounding regions.
Andre continued rising to fame in 1966 when he met Frank Valois. He continued to become popular with Frank Valois as his advisor and manager.
Frank made it possible for Andre to tour different regions. Andre built his reputation and became popular by wrestling in Germany, the United Kingdom, Africa, and New Zealand.
8. Famous in Japan
Andre the Giant continued to rise and build his career. In 1970 Andre became a popular wrestler in Japan. People called him ‘Monster Rouissimoff’ due to his height and stature.
He wrestled for the International Wrestling Enterprise where he became a tag team champion fighting alongside another wrestler called Michael Nador.
9. Discovery of acromegaly
While wrestling in Japan, Andre the Giant discovered he had a medical condition called acromegaly. This condition causes excess growth of some body parts like hands or feet.
Acromegaly is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland. This tumor produces excessive growth hormone resulting in overgrown legs, hands, and face.
10. Andre’s decision
When Andre discovered he had acromegaly, he had several options. He could seek medical help to improve his health. However, he chose not to get medical help.
He thought that seeking treatment would interfere with his career. He had already become popular and did not want to sacrifice his stardom for his health.
11. Wrestling in Canada
Andre’s career continued to gain traction in 1971. He relocated to Montreal, Canada, where he continued to wrestle.
He became so popular that people flocked to the Montreal Forum to see him wrestle. Andre’s wrestling promoters finally ran out of ideal opponents to match Andre’s strength, and his popularity began to fade in Canada.
12. Andre’s move to America
In 1973, Andre the Giant finally moved to America. He began working with Vincent J. McMahon. McMahon made several changes to Andre’s career.
He made changes to his wrestling tactics to draw attention to his size and strength. McMahon introduced the name ‘Andre The Giant’ which has stuck since then.
13. Touring regions
McMahon saw it fitting to maximize Andre’s influence. He came up with a touring plan that involved Andre making appearances in different regions.
Andre would wrestle for different wrestling promoters across the world and get paid. In exchange, McMahon received a percentage of the payment as a booking fee for WWF.
14. Triumphant wrestler
Andre continued to be unmatched in the wrestling ring and earned many victories. He wrestled in the Worldwide Wrestling Federation (WWF) and defeated Frank Valois.
He then went on to defeat Buddy Wolfe. Andre became one of the most adored baby faces in wrestling. However, Andre did lose in a few matches. He had lost to Killer Kowalski and Don Leo Jonathan.
15. Early acting career
Not only was Andre the Giant a wrestler, but also a professional actor. In 1976, he appeared in the Six Million Dollar Man as ‘Big foot’.
He went on to appear in several other shows like The Fall Guy, Trading Mom, Micki & Maude, Zorro, and The Greatest American Hero.
16. Conan the Destroyer
In 1984, Andre the Giant appeared in the film Conan the destroyer. Conan the Destroyer is one of the many great films that Andre was part of.
In this storyline, Andre appears as a villain. He took the role of ‘Dagoth’, a horned god. In this role, he is killed by the hero of the story, ‘Conan’.
17. The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride was Andre’s favourite film. Andre played the role of the giant ‘Fezzik’ in ‘The Princess Bride’. While it was not easy to film due to Andre’s health issues, the movie was a success.
This role portrays Andre as a gentle giant instead of a villain ogre. This film became a classic and made Andre more popular.
18. Unscripted Wepner fight
Andre fought Chuck Wepner who was a professional boxer. This fight was unscripted and not part of the WWF average matches.
The match was a promotion of the Muhammad Ali vs Antonio Inoki match. Andre tossed Wepner out of the wrestling ring and won the match squarely after a count-out.
19. Andre’s broken ankle
Andre broke his ankle when getting out of bed due to his health condition. Nevertheless, he proceeded to attend a scripted match with Killer Khan.
In the scripted storyline, Killer Khan allegedly broke Andre’s ankle resulting in a feud. The feud between the two continued to shape Andre’s career in the long run.
20. Hulk Hogan feud
Andre developed a feud with Hulk Hogan, another famous wrestler. When the feud first started, Hulk Hogan was the villain and Andre was the hero.
The feud between the two wrestlers continued and the tables turned. Andre became the villain, while Hulk turned into a hero. The two continued to wrestle it out in the ring.
21. Wrestlemania III
In 1987, Hulk Hogan and Andre wrestled in Wrestlemania III. This popular match was a fan favourite. Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre and proceeded to win the fight.
After several years, Hulk Hogan said he sustained injuries after lifting Andre the Giant. During this period, Andre’s weight was estimated to be 520 lbs.
22. World Heavyweight Championship
Andre and Hulk continued to feud and wrestle with each other. In 1988, Andre won the Worldwide Heavyweight Championship in a match against Hulk Hogan.
This was the only time Andre ever won the World Heavyweight Championship title. His victory was brief, since he later sold his title to ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted Dibiase.
23. Andre’s famous surgery
Andre suffered from chronic back pain due to his condition. In 1986, he consented to back surgery. This extraordinary surgery became popular since the doctor could not use normal surgical equipment.
Instead, he used more anesthesia to operate on Andre’s back. Despite the surgery, Andre continued to suffer back problems.
24. Andre’s drinking capacity
Andre became popular for his booze-drinking capacity. He would drink more than 100 beers in one sitting.
One of his friends said that Andre would drink 6 bottles of wine before a wrestling match. His friends also describe Andre as generous, since he would always insist on settling bills.
25. Working with Vince McMahon
Andre’s career changed in 1982 when Vincent J. McMahon handed over the Worldwide Wrestling Federation (WWF) to his son. Vince McMahon made WWF a national promotion.
He made Andre part of the WWF change and allowed him to only accept Japanese wrestling bookings. Vince wanted to use Andre for WWF exclusively.
26. Big John Studds rivalry
One of Andre the Giant’s greatest feuds was with Big John Studd in the early 1980s. The fight was about who was the true giant.
Andre body slammed John Studd and proceeded to win one of the many matches that would ensue between them. The feud continued for about 2 years.
27. Andre’s body deteriorates
While he still continued to wrestle, Andre’s body began breaking down in 1987. He was often uncomfortable during matches. His body would not adequately support his weight and height.
Andre even wore special body gear and used crutches to support his body. Sometimes, he would rely on other wrestlers for support.
28. The Colossal Connection
In 1989 Andre was paired with Haku to create a tag team called the Colossal connection. The tag team’s aim was also to ease Andre’s bodily discomfort.
His ring time would reduce significantly due to his health problems. Together, Andre and Haku proceeded to acquire the WWF Tag Team Championship.
29. Andre’s wrestling career ended
Andre could no longer wrestle due to his condition. However, he continued to make appearances in WWF. He wrestled in a 17-man match in 1991.
In 1992, he performed his last matches in Japan. He could have continued wrestling if he was in good health. Unfortunately, his career had to come to an abrupt end.
30. Appearances and tours
Andre’s last appearance on WWF was in 1991 in Paris, France. He also appeared in Universal Wrestling Federation in 1991. Andre appeared for an interview with Captain Lou Albano in 1991.
In one of his final appearances, Andre was on crutches. In 1992, Andre made his last appearance on Worldwide Championship Wrestling (WCW).
31. Andre’s death
Andre attended his father’s burial in early 1993. After the funeral, he spent time with his family and celebrated his mom’s birthday.
Andre then left for his hotel room in Paris. He died in his hotel room in Paris two days after his mother’s birthday. He died in his sleep due to heart failure.
32. Andre’s resting place
Andre’s wish was to be cremated after his death. His wishes were honoured, and his body was cremated. His ashes were scattered on his North Carolina ranch.
His ashes reportedly weighed 17 pounds (ca. 8 kg). This weight is about 3 times that of an average man’s ashes. Andre left his estate to his daughter.
33. Andre’s marriage
Andre married Jean Christensen, but they did not register their marriage in the US. Together they had a daughter, Robin.
Unfortunately, the union did not work out and the couple split after some time. Andre continued to support his daughter after he split up with her mother.
34. Andre’s daughter
Andre had a daughter called Robin Christensen. He did not build a strong relationship with his daughter. He barely spent time with her. Robin says she met her father only five times during his lifetime.
Robin is Andre’s only daughter and child. She follows in her father’s footsteps as a professional wrestler and actor.
35. Declined NFL football offer
What if Andre became a football champion instead? George Allen, the Washington football coach, once approached Andre the Great.
He offered Andre a position on the NFL football team but the wrestler declined. Can you picture Andre the Giant on a football field? The sport would probably not have worked out.
36. Wrestling NFL players
While Andre the Giant turned down the opportunity to become an NFL star, he definitely met some star NFL football player.
Andre chose to remain in the wrestling ring, where he tackled several NFL players. Some of these famous players include Russ Francis, Bill Fralic, Perry, and others.
37. Andre’s strong legacy
Not only was Andre famous during his lifetime, but also continues to make his mark after his death. He continues to be a legend 30 years later.
The ‘Obey‘ clothing line uses Andre the Giant’s image as the face behind their company. What a way to honour the legacy of the star wrestler!
38. Trending documentary
Even in death, the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ continues to trend. HBO released a documentary about Andre’s life in 2018 that would gain lots of views.
The sports documentary is the most watched on the HBO network. You should consider getting a glimpse of the wrestler’s life.
39. Heroic action figures
Andre remains to be an extraordinary hero and legend. Several companies produce action figures that mimic Andre the Giant’s physique.
The figurines appear to be strong with huge protruding muscles. They also wear his signature wrestling attire. Several companies like LJN, Jakks, and Super 7 still produce these legendary action figures.
40. Vince McMahon’s relationship with Andre
Vince and Andre did not particularly see eye to eye. Their relationship was a bit shaky. After Andre’s death, Vince was not happy about how their relationship ended.
He wished he had a chance to make amends. Vince referred to Andre as a man of great strength, stature, and heart.
41. Applauding Andre the Giant
During his lifetime, Andre the Giant achieved many milestones and acquired many titles. He did not let his condition hold him back.
Andre defeated popular wrestlers like Big John Studd and Hulk Hogan. He also won a 20-man match. Andre won the WWF World Tag Team title and the WWF Heavyweight title.