Born in France, Andre the Giant reached the height of 6’3″ and weighed 110 kg by the age of 12. At school, the big man was a good student, but he dropped out after 8th grade. He began working on a farm, completed an apprenticeship in woodworking, and worked in a factory that manufactured hay baler engines. At age 17, unsatisfied with his manual labor work, Andre learned the art of professional wrestling. He trained at night and worked during the day to pay his living expenses and began wrestling in Paris and nearby areas.
Frank Valois, a Canadian promoter and wrestler, met the Giant in 1966. Frank became his business manager and adviser. Andre began to make a name for himself by wrestling in the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. In Japan, he debuted as “Monster Roussimoff,” in 1970. Wrestling as both a singles and in tag team, he won the company’s tag team championship with Michael Nador. Thus, the illustrious career of the Giant begins in an epic manner.
The Giant was a destructive monster in the ring but a gentle flower when outside. After his death, William Goldman, the author of the novel The Princess Bride, wrote in his nonfiction work Which Lie Did I Tell? that:
“André was one of the gentlest and most generous people I ever knew. Whenever André treated someone to a meal in a restaurant he would pay, but he would also insist on paying when he was a guest. After one meal, Arnold Schwarzenegger had quietly moved to the cashier to pay before André could, but then found himself being physically lifted, carried from his table, and deposited on top of his car by André and saying ‘I pay.’”
The Giant loved to eat and drink and entertain people and his legacy will continue to live. Here we have compiled 10 incredible statistics about Andre the Giant that will leave you speechless.
10. Undefeated for 15 years
Babyface of professional wrestling during the 70s and early 80s, André was one of the most beloved wrestlers of all time. Andre had never lost a match in the WWF until WrestleMania III. However, he did lose in matches outside the WWF (a pinfall loss to Canek in Mexico (1984), a submission loss to Antonio Inoki in Japan (1986), and two sixty-minute time limit draws with Harley Race and Nick Bockwinkel, the two world champions in those days). Gorilla Monsoon advocated that André had never been beaten for 15 years by submission or pinfall before WrestleMania III. André also fought professional boxer Chuck Wepner in a boxer-vs.-wrestler fight. This match was unscripted. André threw Chuck out of the ring.
9. Drank 41 Litres of Beer
“The Greatest Drunk on Earth” is Andre’s unofficial title. He once consumed over 41 liters of beer in 6 hours. Mike Graham, on an episode of WWE’s Legends of Wrestling, claimed that he has witnessed André drink 156, 16-US-fluid-ounce (470 ml) beers, which was confirmed by Dusty Rhodes, in one sitting. The Fabulous Moolah, in her autobiography, writes, “André drank 127 beers in a Reading, Pennsylvania, hotel bar and later passed out in the lobby. The staff could not move him and had to leave him there until he awoke.”
There are rumors about how the surgeons planned André’s 1987 surgery, as his size made it impossible for the anesthesiologist to estimate the dose of anesthesia required for him. The standard method simply didn’t apply. The doctors then used his alcohol tolerance as a reference. Andre is reported to have said: “It usually takes two liters of vodka just to make me feel warm inside.”
8. First Ever WWE Hall of Fame Inductee
With his undefeated streak lasting nearly 15 years, the one-time WWF Champion and the one-time WWF World Tag Team Champion was the first inductee in the WWF Hall of Fame. No ceremony took place. In an episode of WWF Monday Night Raw, on March 22, 1993, a tribute video of the legend was presented, announcing his induction in the Hall of Fame. Andre had died nearly two months before being inducted and he was the sole inductee. He died in his sleep of congestive heart failure in a Paris hotel room. Andre was there to attend his father’s funeral. His body was cremated according to his wishes.
7. Most Embarrassing Wrestler
Andre the Giant was given the award for “the Most Embarrassing Wrestler” by Wrestling Observers Newsletter in 1989. Previously, Andre took the center stage in some embarrassing moments as well. One time Andre was signing autographs for children ringside and The Black Demon attacked him. What was Andre’s response? He grabbed Demon by the mask, hit him with a headbutt and belted him across the ring, taking the mask right off his head. Demon then grabbed a nearby towel to hide his face and took off.
This is not the only time he has been declared the worst by Wrestling Observers Newsletter; his feud with Big John Studd in 1984 and the one with The Ultimate Warrior have also been called the Worst Feud of the Year 1984 and 1989, respectively. His match with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III was awarded with the title of Worst Worked Match of the Year. And you know what’s funny? Andre has also been declared the Worst Wrestler in 1989, 1991, and 1992.
6. First Defeat in Front of Record Crowd
Although he had been defeated before, this was his first defeat in 15 years of wrestling in the WWF. At WrestleMania III, weighing in at 520 pounds Andre walked into the ring to face Hulk Hogan. The stress of such tremendous weight on his legs and joints resulted in constant pain. He was wearing a brace, due to his recent back surgery, which was underneath his wrestling attire. A record crowd of 93,173 had gathered to see the two giants fight. Hogan slammed Andre, leg dropped the Giant and pinned him, for Andre’s first defeat in the WWF. The Slam was later dubbed “the bodyslam heard around the world.” However, in later years, Hogan admitted that André felt more like 700 lb (320 kg) that night and was so heavy that he actually ruptured his Latissimus dorsi muscle while slamming him.
5. Andre the Giant Memorial Trophy
Hulk Hogan, in an episode of RAW on March 10, 2014, announced that in honor of André’s legacy, he would establish the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXX. The winner would receive the Andre the Giant Memorial Trophy. At WrestleMania XXX, on April 6, 2014, Cesaro won the match after he body slammed Big Show in a way similar to the move that Hulk Hogan used on André at WrestleMania III. At WrestleMania 31, the second André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal took place. Big Show won the event, eliminating Damien Mizdow, who turned on his partner and eliminated him.
4. Impressive Television Career
Andre was a natural actor. Hollywood is a place where there’s never a shortage of big actors but when speaking about giant actors, the matter is a little different. Andre’s giant stature best suited the role of Fezzik, the gentle giant, in Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride.
When Reiner first saw Andre, he knew that Andre would be the best for this role. By then, Andre had little acting experience, as he had only played a few roles in movies. Prior to The Princess Bride, he played “bigfoot” in The Six Million Dollar Man – The Secret of Bigfoot – I and II (1976). Andre had also been a part of B. J. and the Bear – Snow White and the Seven Lady Truckers (1981) as Manny Felcher.
On the set of The Princess Bride, as recalled by William Goldman, he called everyone “Boss” and was very shy and quiet. Reiner, on the other hand, said that Andre’s “instincts are pure and natural. He never missed a mark.” He opted for acting as his second career. He made an appearance in Conan the Destroyer as Dagoth, the horned giant god who is finished off by Conan. However, his appearance was uncredited.
3. Never Married
Andre was never married and lived most of the time on a 200-acre ranch in Ellerbe, North Carolina. Andre, however, had one daughter, Robin Christensen Roussimoff, born in 1979. “I’m not ready,” says Andre of marriage. “Too many girls want the giant.” Although wrestling kept Andre traveling all year, he would take time off on his 160-acre ranch near Rockingham, N.C., where he raised horses and longhorns. The ranch had a full-time staff and plenty of people for companionship. André was arrested once in Linn County, Iowa, in 1989 and charged with assault. He roughed up a local television cameraman. But normally he was the gentlest of people and very humble.
2. His Many Achievements
Andre the Giant was one of the most popular wrestlers of his time. His most famous feuds include the one with Hulk Hogan. Andre, at WrestleMania II in 1986, won a twenty-man battle royal which featured the best NFL stars and wrestlers. André eliminated Bret Hart to win the contest. Apart from this, he won the WWF Championship and WWF Tag Team Championship (with Haku). PWI ranked him as the Most Popular Wrestler of the Year 1977 and 1982. His matches with Killer Khan and Hulk Hogan were ranked by PWI as Match of the Year 1981 and 1988, respectively. Although the humble wrestling giant was loved by many, PWI ranked him the Most Hated Wrestler of the Year in 1988. PWI also ranked him #3 in the PWI Years in 2003.
1. Highest Paid Athlete of his Time
André was included in the Guinness Book of World Records (1974) as the highest-paid wrestler in history. During the early 1970s, he earned US$400,000 in one year alone. Earnings from acting and other sources added up to nearly $1 million a year. He travelled in a customized van and would fly in spacious first class. Andre would sleep on king-size beds, but due to his size he slept diagonally and visited the theater only if a special chair was provided. He lived on a 200-acre ranch in Ellerbe, North Carolina. Andre’s net worth was $2 million and most of his pay was spent on bar bills due to his huge thirst for beer and vodka.