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BY JACOB ZHIVOV
June 9, 2003
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Andre Rene Roussimoff, better known to most people in
world as Andre the Giant, was born on May 19th 1946 in Grenoble, France
to parents Boris and Marian Roussimoff. They and Andre's four siblings
were of average size. Andre, however, suffered from acromegaly, a
disease that results in an overabundance of growth hormones. Also
known as Giantism, this disease caused Andre's body to continue growing
his whole life, and by the time he was 17 he stood 6 feet 7 inches.
He eventually grew to 7 feet 4 inches and weighed as much as 500 pounds
and at this height and weight it was obvious that he had wrestling
potential. This potential was soon achieved with many memorable matches
against opponents like Hulk Hogan.
Andre started to make a name for himself in the ring
as "Monster Eiffel Tower" and "Monster Roussimoff".
French-Canadian wrestler Edouard Carpentier saw Andre and was impressed
with his raw talent. He decided to bring Andre to North America. Andre
began wrestling under the name Jean Ferre in Canada for Grand Prix
Promotions. In a short time Andre went from the undercard to being
a headlining name. He acquired the nickname "The 8th Wonder of
the World" (inspired by the movie King Kong). This name stayed
with him for the rest of his career.
By the time Andre had performed in front of 20,000 wrestling
fans in Montreal, his legend had reached World Wide Wrestling Federation's
(WWWF) boss Vince McMahon Sr, who would forever alter Andre's life.
In 1972, McMahon signed Andre to wrestle for the WWWF and changed
his name to capitalize on his enormity. "Andre the Giant"
became one of the most recognizable names in wrestling. Andre performed
under his new name at Madison Square Garden, where he easily defeated
his opponent Buddy Wolfe without breaking a sweat. Before long, Andre's
venues were sold out and wrestlers lined up to perform in his shadow.
As Andre's fame grew to stardom, he was featured in Sports Illustrated
in the largest feature they had ever published.
In 1987 Andre drew the biggest crowd in the WWF (formerly
WWWF) history thus far. A record 90,000 fans packed the Pontiac Silver
Dome in Detroit, Michigan to watch Andre wrestle fellow legend Hulk
Hogan in the main event of Wrestlemania III. This match put two of
the biggest stars of wrestling together in a match for the top title,
nobody would be ready for the result and this match considered one
of the biggest matches of all time, Why is this match so popular?
Because of its finish. Hulk Hogan picked Andre up over his head and
body slammed him into the mat. Even today this match is considered
one of the best matches of all time for this move alone. Hogan later
said that it was Andre's idea to end the match this way and that he
also hurt every muscle in his body.
In all, Andre participated at six Wrestlemanias and
faced some of the toughest opponents in the business, including Big
John Studd and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. For many years
he was known as the "Uncrowned Champion", until he found
his place in infamy and held the WWF title for the shortest reign
This wasn't the only championship Andre captured --
he also won titles in the NWA, IWA and the WWF Tag Team Championship.
Andre's last television appearance was on a celebration
of 20 years of NWA/WCW wrestling on TBS.
Though professionally Andre will always be remembered
as The 8th Wonder of the World, he is known and loved by fans across
the globe as The Gentle Giant.
Andre's fame as a wrestler also opened the door to Hollywood.
He made his acting debut in 1975 as "Big Foot" on a special
two-part episode of The Six Million Dollar Man. Andre enjoyed the
experience and made another two part episode for the show B.J. and
the Bear entitled "Snow White and the Seven Lady Truckers."
He did other guest spots in shows like The Fall Guy, Zorro and The
Greatest American Hero.
Andre also had parts in movies such as Conan the Destroyer,
Micki and Maude, and Trading Mom. His favorite role, and the one for
which he is best remembered, was the lovable giant "Fezzik"
in Rob Reiner's classic The Princess Bride -- a movie all of us should
Sadly, over the years the effects of acromegaly had continued to wear
down Andre's body and eventually his immense size was just too much
for his heart. Andre the Giant died in Paris, France in his hotel
room on January 27, 1993. His ashes were later taken home and spread
over his North Carolina ranch. He is still remembered and loved by
many today, especially wrestling fans. Andre Rene Roussimoff may have
died ten years ago but his legacy will remain for some time still.