Something absolutely massive happened to the small screen last night.
At long last, telly kings HBO aired their long-awaited Andre The Giant documentary, gifting viewers to a look inside the incredible, unbelievable, crazy and ultimately tragic times of the biggest thing to happen to the World Wrestling Federation’s ring.
The 85-minute biopic, about the 7ft 4in “Eighth Wonder of the World” who died 25 years ago from heart failure, did a heck of a job of showing audiences just how hard and fast the Goliath lived during the 46 years his 500lb frame shook the Earth. There were legendary wresting matches against fellow 80s icons. There were roles in Hollywood movies. There were boozing sessions on a scale you’d never think humanly possible. There was Lycra. Dear god, there was a lot of Lycra.
By way of our own tiny tribute to the biggest man of all time, here’s 16 king-sized facts about Andre The Giant that prove this new doc might just be the most intriguing one you’ll see this year…
André was already 6ft 3in tall by the age of 12
At that size, André couldn’t even fit onto his school bus. Instead, he got lifts in with his neighbour, who, amazingly, was famous Irish poet Samuel Beckett. The story goes that on their daily journeys, they’d rarely talk about anything but cricket. Nothing compared to the 7ft 4in and 500-plus pounds he eventually grew to.
André earned the nicknamed “The Biggest Drunk of All Time”
You think your “mad one” last Saturday was big? It wasn’t. It really wasn’t. André’s fromer wrestling buddy Mike Graham once recounted the big man necking 156 beers in one sitting – a tale later backed up by Dusty Rhodes. André would eventually quit drinking beer, and drop from 560lbs to 470lbs just by cutting it from his diet. He kept on drinking wine though…
…and drank 16 bottles of wine before his Royal Rumble against 19 opponents
When André would inevitably pass out through drunkness, he was so heavy that nobody could move him. There’re a number of stories of this happening in hotels, were the Giant was just left slumped in the lobby to sleep it off.
Even with that level of booze in him, he’d always be a designated driver
His brother, Jacques Roussimoff, once said: “It was better to not try to keep up with him, because his friends would end up sick, whereas he would always end up fine. When we would go out, he was always the one taking us home. He was like our chauffeur.”
He turned down a career in the NFL to pursue wrestling
Imagine if he’d actually signed the contract the Washington Redskins offered him. Imagine how many bones he’d have turned to dust.
He was the first person ever inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame
And rightly so, after becoming the highest-paid wrestler at the time, and remaining undefeated for 15 years. Unfortunately, Andre only got the honour posthumously, and without any ceremony.
André once fought a professional boxer in a boxer-vs-wrestler fight
On the undercard of Muhammad Ali’s 1976 televised fight dubbed ‘The War Of The Worlds’ against Japanese heavyweight wresting champion Antonio Ionki, Andre took on boxer Chuck “The Bayonne Brawler” Wepner in New York. In the third round, Wepner was picked up by The Giant like a sack of sugar and lobbed out of the ring. ““I could’ve knocked him out in the first round, but he kept holding on the ropes,” André said after the fight.
André pretty much beat Hogan even after losing to him
André, as we’ve already said, rarely felt the embarrassment of defeat. But on the rare occasion an opponent got the better of him, The Giant had the last laugh. In Wrestlemania III, Hulk Hogan managed to body slam his former pal to leave the ring victorious. He also left with a torn latissimus dorsi, thanks to the incredible weight of his foe.
He was the first wrestler to really break into Hollywood
Credits include The Princess Bride, The Six Million Dollar Man, Conan The Destroyer, and, er, a Cindi Lauper video.
He was incredibly polite
Not only did André insist on paying the bill wherever he went, but he rarely went to the theatre for fear of blocking the view of those behind him. However, the politeness stopped when it came to Hulk Hogan. “I don’t like to speak badly of people,” André once said. “I have grown up thinking and being told that if you cannot say something nice about someone, you should not say anything at all. But I must break that rule in this case because I hate Hulk Hogan very much. He is a big ugly goon and I want to squash his face.”
The reason he never got married is the best reason ever
“I’m not ready [for marriage]. Too many girls want the giant,” he said. Yep, probably the coolest thing ever said.
André was excused from military service because he was too big
Put simply, no bunk would house him, no trench would protect him, and no standard issue shoes would fit him.
André had size 20 feet
Explains the point above, doesn’t it. Doesn't explain why we're using a picture of him riding a red tricycle to illustrate this point, but here we are.
His fingers were so big you could pass a silver dollar through his rings
Former pro wrestler Gorilla Monsoon did it himself, and Gorilla Monsoon sounds like a really trustworthy guy.
His face is a symbol of hope
That’s his mug staring down at you from all those Obey t-shirts and art pieces made by Shepard Fairey.
After being cremated, André's remains weighed 8kg
Even more impressive than that was his incredible outlook on life and death, which he summed up in an interview with Sports Illustrated: “I have had good fortune. I am grateful for my life. If I were to die tomorrow, I know I have eaten more good food, drunk more beer and fine wine, had more friends and seen more of the world than most men ever will."