He stood 7’4” (224 cm) high, weighed in at 520 pounds (236 kg), and was considered “the eighth wonder of the world”. Andre the Giant, aka Andre Roussimoff, is one of wrestling’s most iconic figures, known for his epic WrestleMania bout against Hulk Hogan, as the loveable giant Fezzik in The Princess Bride, and for wrestling undefeated for 15 years. Below are some of the most interesting facts about the wrestling legend:
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1. Driven to School by Samuel Beckett
During his youth, Andre had a friendship with Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot). Beckett, who was living next-door to the Roussimoffs in a house built by Andre’s father, heard how the 12-year-old could not attend school because he was too big for the bus. Samuel decided to drive the 6’3”, 200-pound student to school in the back of his truck, during which time they talked about cricket.
2. He Didn’t Enlist in the Army
Andre almost had to enlist for the French army when he was just 18-years-old. At that time, every 18-year-old male had to enlist for the army in France, but for Andre, his size ended up being an advantage and stopped him from ending up in the army as he was too big to fit into the uniforms.
Instead, he fell through the cracks and was forgotten about, eventually being discovered as a professional wrestler which he started training towards when he was 19.
3. The Highest-Paid Wrestler in the World
In 1974, Andre made his way into the Guiness Book of World Records, however, it wasn’t for the reason you might think. In fact, Andre was listed in the book as the highest-paid wrestler in the entire world, with an annual salary of roughly $400,000, which equates to about $2 million by modern standards.
While he did make a lot of money (and made several wrestling promoters even more), much of Andre’s wealth went towards the expenses necessary to make him comfortable in a world that was far too small for him. He required custom-made clothing, furniture, and even his home in France had extensive modifications. Andre’s bar bills were also extensive, and the cost of traveling to wrestling events in other countries was prohibitive, given the challenges of finding planes and hotel rooms that could manage his bulk.
4. Not the Tallest Wrestler Ever
Andre may have been a true giant, and the Eighth Wonder of the World, but in wrestling history, there have actually been several other wrestlers who stood taller than his 7’4″ height. Many are not that well-known, but among the names on the list is Giant Gonzalez, a former NBA player who spent time in both WCW and WWE, and was an amazing 7’7″. Gonzalez suffered from a similar condition as Andre, and passed away in 2010 due to diabetic complications resulting from it.
Of course, much like The Big Show is now billed as the World’s Largest Athlete, height isn’t the only measurement of size, as Andre also weighed over 500 pounds by the end of his wrestling career. Andre was so large, that when he died, his cremated remains reportedly weighed over 17 pounds.
5. The Greatest Drunk on Earth
Andre’s love of alcoholic beverages was legendary, as he reportedly consumed over 7,000 calories worth of alcohol every day. Several confirmed stories exist of Andre drinking over a hundred beers or several bottles of wine in a single sitting, and he was given the unofficial title of the “Greatest Drunk on Earth”.
In fact, an urban legend (which has never been confirmed) exists which claims that when Andre was having surgery, a problem arose when it came to determining how much anasthesia to use, due to his size, and the doctors allegedly used his level of alcohol tolerance in order determine a basis for the medication. Unfortunately, Andre’s fondness for drinking had a dark side to it, as Andre used it as a form of self-medication due to the massive amount of pain caused by his condition, and also to deal with how awkward his size made him feel in public.