From Academic Kids


André the Giant, "The 8th Wonder of the World", (May 19, 1946January 27, 1993) was a professional wrestler and actor, born André René Roussimoff in Grenoble, France. His great size was a result of acromegaly, or excessive growth hormone, and led to him being dubbed "The eighth wonder of the world".



André was one of the best known and respected professional wrestlers in the world. Born to French parents of Bulgarian descent in a small farm near Grenoble, he left home in his adolescence to become a pro wrestler. He was billed at 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) and 520 pounds (236 kgs) but he was closer to 6 ft 11 in at the tallest serious estimate and he was under 400 pounds when he started but did not train seriously and gained signifigant weight as he got older. Nonetheless, the sight of him alone was enough to draw huge crowds in a day when there were only a handful of people over 6 ft 6 in. After touring the world with different promotions for many years (mostly in Montreal for Ed Carpantier), he was signed by the World Wide Wrestling Federation (which would later change its name to the World Wrestling Federation and is now known as World Wrestling Entertainment) in the late 1970s. By the time WWF owner Vince McMahon began to expand his promotion to the national level in the early 1980s, André wrestled exclusively for the WWF.

André was a very imposing figure – it is said that he never tested the full extent of his true strength because he was afraid of the damage it might cause. Some of André's opponents were legitimately afraid to get in the ring with him for fear of getting accidentally injured, but those who got to know him soon learned that his personality was perhaps one of the gentlest in the world. It is also said that André could drink an entire case of beer and not feel so much as a buzz. He was offered a professional American football contract with the Washington Redskins after a tryout in 1974 and seriously considered it before turning it down, reasoning that he could make far more money wrestling (which was probably true, especially at that time).

He was one of the WWF's most beloved "babyfaces" throughout the 1970s and early '80s, and was billed as undefeated for over ten years before losing in 1987. André had lost matches before in Mexico to Canek in 1984, seven years into the streak.

At WrestleMania I, André defeated Big John Studd in a bodyslam match. After slamming Studd, he attempted to give the $15,000 prize to the fans, before having the bag stolen from him.

At Wrestlemania II, André won a battle royal that featured top NFL stars and wrestlers.

Afterwards, André continued his feud with Studd and King Kong Bundy. André was suspended after a no-show; he returned under a mask as 'The Giant Machine' part of a team with 'Big Machine' (Robert "Blackjack" Windham) and 'Super Machine' (Bill Eadie). (The 'Machines' gimmick was copied from New Japan Pro Wrestling character 'Super Strong Machine', played by Japanese wrestler Junji Hirata.) Soon afterwards, Giant Machine disappeared and André was reinstated, to the approval of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.

Missing image
André the Giant in a police mugshot after being arrested for assaulting a cameraman

André was turned heel in 1987 so that he could face Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship in the main event of WrestleMania III. In early 1987, Hogan was presented a trophy for being the WWF champion for three years. André came out to congratulate him. Shortly afterwards, André was presented a slightly smaller trophy for being undefeated for "15 years" (in the storyline - André had suffered key defeats once in a while, most notably to Japan's Antonio Inoki). Hogan came out to congratulate André, but André walked out in protest. Then, on an edition of Piper's Pit, Hogan was confronted by Heenan. Heenan announced that his new protege was André. André then challenged Hogan to a title match at WrestleMania III, ripping the t-shirt and crucifix off of Hogan.

It was at WrestleMania III that the public first really saw the pain that André was going through, by this stage his body was weighed in at about 550 pounds and his bones and joints were finding it hard supporting such a huge weight. Prior to the match, André had undergone surgery to strengthen his back but despite this, he agreed to let Hogan win the match with a bodyslam. Before being signed to the WWF, André had wrestled in Japan. It was here that a doctor diagnosed André with his condition and told him that those with the same problem were generally lucky to reach forty. André never told his family of the diagnosis and his closest friends believe that it was this motivation that led André to live life to the fullest until he died.

The Hogan-André face off in WrestleMania III was likely the most highly anticipated professional wrestling matchup in history – the apex of wrestling's most recent golden era. The event, held at the Pontiac Silverdome, broke the indoor attendance record with 93,173 fans in attendance, with millions watching on Pay-Per-View, and established great permanent value in the WrestleMania franchise. Hogan defeated André, in what many experts believe was a passing of the torch from André, wrestling's biggest star of the '70s, to Hogan, wrestling's biggest star of the '80s. The feud between André and Hogan simmered, even as André's health declined.

André won the WWF title from Hogan on February 5, 1988 in a match where the original referee was knocked out and a replacement made a three count on Hogan while his shoulders were off of the mat. The replacement was referee Earl Hebner, who replaced his twin brother David Hebner. André then "sold" the title to "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and the title was vacated.

At WrestleMania IV, André and Hulk Hogan went to a double DQ in a WWF title tournament match. Afterwards, André and Hogan's feud died down after a series of 'cage matches.'

André won the WWF tag team titles with his partner Haku but they lost their titles at WrestleMania VI to Demolition. André had a (real life?) falling out with Heenan and soon retired. André starred in several movies towards the end of his career, most notably as Fezzik in The Princess Bride. He had a cameo appearance in 1984's Conan the Destroyer as Dagoth, the resurrected horned giant beast, which is killed by Conan, the character portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, later Governor of California. In his final film, he appeared in something of a cameo role as a circus giant in the comedy Trading Mom, which was not released until the year after his death.

The disease that granted him his immense size also began to take its toll on his body. By the late 1980s André was in constant, near-crippling pain and his heart struggled to pump blood throughout his massive body.

He stopped competing entirely in the very early 1990s due to the increasing pain his illness was causing him, retiring to his winery in France. His heart finally failed him in 1993, and André passed away peacefully in his sleep at a hotel in Paris while in town for his father's funeral. He was cremated and his ashes were spread over his ranch in Ellerbe, North Carolina.

To honour André the WWF created the WWF Hall of Fame in 1993 and made him their first inductee.

Missing image
André the Giant was the influence for a graffiti sticker campaign as seen here

He has since become an ironic icon, stemming in part from a series of ubiquitous André the Giant Has a Posse, now known as "Obey Giant", art, which can be found on street corners and building walls in cities big and small all over the world

In wrestling

Finishing/Trademark moves



World Wrestling Federation

Other Titles

Pro Wrestling Illustrated

  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) gave André the 1993 Editor's Award that goes to the most inspirational wrestling personality each year. André also won several PWI Awards over the years. He won Most Popular Wrestler in 1977 and 1982. He won Most Hated Wrestler in 1988. He won Match of the Year in 1981 (vs. Killer Khan) and in 1988 (vs. Hulk Hogan).
  • PWI also named him # 3 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003.

See also

External links

Preceded by:
Hulk Hogan
WWE Champions Succeeded by:



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