Name: Andre Roussimoff
Year Inducted: 2002
Induction Category: Modern Era

Andre the Giant

Andre Rousimoff was one of the most recognizable figures in the world both as a professional wrestler and as a pop culture icon. Better known as "Andre The Giant," he was born in Colimuers, France on May 19, 1946. He was dubbed the "8th Wonder of The World" due to his remarkable 7' 4" and 500 hundred pounds frame. Despite being afflicted with acromegaly, a pituitary disorder that releases excess growth hormone which causes gigantism of the skull and extremities, Andre endured the disease despite constant pain and suffering.

Trained by French-Canadian wrestling champion Frank Valois, Rousimoff began his career in 1964 in France and he captured the attention of wrestling promoter Eduardo Carpentier. Andre was brought to Canada to wrestle for Grand Prix Promotions where he quickly became a main event attraction. His success would soon spread to several American promotions. In Vince McMahon Sr.'s World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), he officially became "Andre the Giant" in March of 1973 after effortlessly beating opponents on a regular basis at New York City's Madison Square Garden and headlining cards everywhere he appeared.

Andre had an unprecedented 10 year unbeaten streak while wrestling such people as "The Big Cat" Ernie Ladd, Blackjack Mulligan, and Killer Khan in the famous "Mongaolian Stretcher Match." In Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association (AWA), Andre participated in a special cross promotional wrestler vs. boxer match against Chuck Wepner in June 1976. He earned a decisive victory in this mixed martial arts contest. In 1981, Rousimoff captured NWA Florida tag team gold with Dusty Rhodes.

The next decade would be electrifying for Rousimmoff and the World Wrestling Federation. He had an exciting feud with Big John Studd and they wrestled each other all over the world to determine the true giant of professional wrestling. Their feud culminated in the infamous $15,000 Body Slam Challenge match at the 1985 Wrestlemania. Known also as the "King of the Battle Royal," Rousimoff scored another huge victory at the Wrestlemania 2 Battle Royal, which included National Football League stars. At the 1987 Wrestlemania 3, Andre, under the guidance of new heel manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, challenged WWF champion Hulk Hogan. Their match was witnessed by a record crowd of 93,173 at the Pontiac Silverdome. In a thrilling bout that nearly ended after the opening bell, Hogan retained the title and the world was shocked to see Andre receive a body slam.

On February 5th, 1988, Andre won the title from Hogan in what was called "the greatest rematch of the century". The title change occurred in controversial fashion following Ted DiBiase's payoff to federation officials. After his legendary feud with Hogan, Rousimoff wrestled a lengthy period with Jake "The Snake" Roberts and eventually captured WWF Tag Team gold with partner Haku in 1990.

His success as a wrestler enabled him to enter into the Hollywood scene. Andre's initial role was playing "Bigfoot" in the 1975 television program The Six Million Dollar Man. Rousimoff even played a role in Arnold Schwarzenegger's Conan the Destroyer. However, Andre's favorite and proudest moment came as part of the cast in the 1987 classic film The Princess Bride. He was also the subject of an A & E Biography program.

Andre passed away on January 29, 1993 in Paris, France at the age of 46. Andre's legendary presence will be forever remembered in the world of professional wrestling and beyond.

-Andrew Malnoske

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