The untold story of André the Giant

Wrestling is one of the most popular sports in the world because it is not only a sport, it is also entertainment! Over the years, WWE has introduced us to some of the most dramatic and intense storylines that include some of the greatest wrestlers in history. We have watched Hulk Hogan do his thing in the ring, we have marveled over The Undertaker, we have swooned over Dwayne Johnson, and we have watched in awe as André the Giant took center stage. But how much do you really know about André the Giant? Well, this French native was actually born André René Roussimoff, but is not giant thanks to hours in the gym or an impressive diet plan. Instead, this giant suffered from a disorder that affected his pituitary gland. Instead of releasing short bursts of growth hormone, André was inundated with the hormone, which made him grow taller, and larger than life.

At his tallest and heaviest, André weighed a whopping 520 lbs and stood at 7 foot 4 inches. Of course, this was a boon when it came to his wrestling career. He had the strength to overpower his opponents, he was tall enough to scare them, and his stature was one that could be seen by fans all across the stadium. In fact, he was able to score himself two major titles, including the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and the WWF Tag Team Championship. However, it seems we only got half of the information about the life of André the Giant. While he was a talented wrestler, he was also a man who faced his own personal demons, in private. He suffered from chronic pain, he turned to self-medication, and he just couldn’t fit into society. Sadly, he passed away in 1993 – but we haven’t forgotten the legacy that he has left on the world. These are the hidden, riveting facts about André the Giant.

His parents struggled to recognize him

By the time he was just a kid of 14, André had already grown above and beyond the other boys his age. He took this as a sign that he had outgrown his small little French town, so he decided to pack his bags and move away from the country and into the city. Amazingly, André did not return to his home or his family for a whopping five years – but his welcome home was not what he was expected. During his time in the city, André had grown so much and become so large even his own parents struggled to recognize him. He was well and truly a giant.

He was an early bloomer

From an early age, André proved himself to be the Giant we all remember him for. He was significantly larger than the other toddlers in his town, he would tower over them, and it was obvious that he was much heavier than them. In fact, André was significantly larger than life by the time he had reached 12 years old. At this age, he weighed more than a whopping 200 pounds, and stood taller than 6 foot.

He rarely lifted weights

André the Giant’s disorder meant that his body naturally became larger without any training or discipline – which was perfect for his new career as a professional wrestler. However, André still made sure that he trained for all of his fights and pushed his body to the limit. While most wrestlers would lift weights and try to stretch their muscles, André wasn’t about that life. Instead, he incorporated his training into his social life, when he would pick up his friends’ cars and move them while they were intoxicated.

He wore something else under his singlet

André the Giant’s iconic black singlet soon became a symbol of his wrestling career, but it seems as though there was something else hidden under his singlet. In fact, he was sporting a back brace for most of his career after 1986. He was forced to wear this after he underwent surgery on his spine in the mid-‘80s in an attempt to strengthen his back. However, the back brace rarely helped with the strain and pain he felt due to his dwindling body, and he spent most of his career in a huge amount of pain.

He loved to play pranks on his opponents

André was the epitome of a big and friendly giant. Although his stature was somewhat alarming, those who worked and lived around him have all confirmed that he was a jovial spirit at heart. More often than not, he would entertain himself by playing pranks on his opponents. On one occasion, André the Giant was practicing with one of his contenders, and managed to pin him down on the floor. Instead of waiting for him to tap out, André proceeded to bottom burp right on his head for a full 30 seconds!

He turned to drink

Towards the later part of his life, André the Giant would self-medicate by getting intoxicated. Many people have even gone as far to say that André once drank a whopping 100 cans in just one day. However, those who have worked with the Giant in the past have noted that it rarely had a visible effect on him. Although he would drink more than the average man, his huge form and his giant stature would never give in to the effects. In fact, there is only one over-the-limit incident on his record…

He passed out in a hotel

During his time on the 1987 romance movie, The Princess Bride, André the Giant was staying in a hotel and consumed a huge amount of liquor in one sitting. It seems that this time he drunk more than his body could bear, and he passed out in the middle of the hotel corridor. Although the cast and crew knew they needed to move him back to his room, he was so heavy not even a group of people could physically move him away from the lobby. So, instead they cornered off the lobby to give him more privacy.

He refused to take part in a wrestling tradition

If you’ve ever watched a wrestling match, you’ll know that the muscles of the wrestlers often look shiny. This is because most wrestlers lather themselves in baby oil before a fight to ensure that their muscles stand out. Yet, André the Giant didn’t ever look like this – and it seems this is because he refused to take part in this wrestling tradition. André supposedly hated the fact that his fellow wrestlers used the oil to make themselves look better, and he made this known within the wrestling community.

He struggled to complete daily tasks

Although André the Giant soon became one of the most famous wrestlers in history thanks to his ginormous size, it seems as though this size caused problems outside of the ring. As a result of his large fingers, André struggled to complete daily tasks. He could not play the piano because he couldn’t press down on just one key, and he could not use the telephone dial without using a pencil. As if that wasn’t enough, his giant size also meant that he couldn’t use public transport. It wasn’t easy.

He had an unusual love for QVC

As André the Giant got older, the weight of his hefty body took its toll on him. He would struggle to get out of bed, he was constantly in pain, and a simple task of going to the store became almost impossible. Because of this, André developed an unusual love for the shopping channel, QVC. It’s believed that André would sit in his North Carolina home and watch the show for hours on end. When he needed to stock up on household goods, he would do so through the channel.

He was a gentleman at heart

Because of his size and his stature, many people got the wrong impression of André the Giant. They believed him to be cold and rude. However, those who were close to the wrestler would tell you that he was a gentleman at heart. In fact, Arnold Schwarzenegger could tell you! During one dinner date with Arnie and Wilt Chamberlain, André the Giant wouldn’t let the men pay for their food. When Arnie refused André’s offer, he picked him up and took him outside so that he couldn’t take away his good deed.

He didn’t eat as much as you would think

André’s intense size came from a hormone imbalance, rather than overeating or over-exercising. While his large stomach could hold a lot of food, André preferred to eat smaller portions like everyone else. He would order the same amount of food as his fellow diners and refuse to overeat. Yet, there were instances when he did want to show off what he was made of, and would order a huge amount of food in one go. One friend remembers how he once ate a whopping 12 steaks in one meal! Now that is impressive.

He was the inspiration for a wrestling legacy

Nowadays, it’s the aim of any budding wrestler to make their way into the WWE Hall of Fame. It’s the ultimate achievement for those in the sport. Yet, few people realize that the Hall of Fame would not actually exist without him. After his sad passing, the WWE knew that they had to do something to commemorate his life. This is when they decided to set up the WWE Hall of Fame, and André became the first ever entrant. It stayed this way for nearly a year after his passing.

He wasn’t against stealing

It’s no secret that André the Giant would often spend his free time drinking and socializing with his wrestling friends, but it seems as though this pastime often had a mischievous effect on the wrestler. He would often find himself pranking others, and even getting on the wrong side of the law. On one occasion, André proved that he wasn’t against thieving after he enlisted the help of Dusty Rhodes to steal something after a night out. What did they steal, we hear you ask? Well, André and Dusty stole not one, but two horse-drawn carriages!

He enjoyed a quiet life

Although André the Giant dominated the wrestling scene, he also enjoyed spending his free time in his own company. When he wasn’t in the ring, he would take himself away to his cattle ranch in North Carolina and tend to his animals. He enjoyed forming bonds with his animals, took pleasure in watching them grow up right before his very eyes, and loved to surround himself with nature. Of course, he also couldn’t get enough of racing his souped-up ATV around his land, either. We don’t blame him.

He never got to achieve his dream

Like most of us, André the Giant had a bucket list of all of the things he wanted to do before he passed away. One of the activities at the top of his list was that he had always wanted to see a Broadway show alive and in the flesh. Sadly, he did not get to tick this off his bucket list before his passing, as he did not want to get in the way of others. He knew that if he sat in one of the theater seats, he would tower over everyone else.

He would keep his friends warm

While we primarily know André the Giant for his work in the wrestling ring, it’s important to not forget that he also became a Hollywood movie star. During his time on the set of The Princess Bride, the actress Robin Wright would often ask the giant to keep her warm. To do this, he would place his hand on top of her head. She was astounded to discover that his whole hand covered the entirety of her head, but the heat worked a treat, and she was warm in no time.

He couldn’t use the restroom

Because of his huge size, André the Giant often found it impossible to use public restrooms. The urinals were way too low for him to use, and the cubicles were just too small. This made being out in public incredibly difficult for him – but he eventually found a way that worked for him. Instead of using the toilet, André would use the bathtub for all of his business. He would also use newspaper instead of toilet paper, as it was much larger than the average roll!

He had a lucky escape

During his early years, André the Giant was expected to conscript into the army. Although he attended the meetings and the early stages of the process, the army eventually decided to leave him behind because he was just too large for them. They did not have boots that would fit his huge feet, he couldn’t have slept in the bunks because they were too small, and he would never have been able to hide in the trenches because he would have poked out the top. It’s fair to say that he had a lucky escape.