All athletes in the world of professional wrestling are known to be big. Among their most prominent features, we find big, muscular bodies, and descriptive names. Not many of them are so descriptive, though than the one attached to one of the biggest (literally) stars of professional wrestling history, Frenchman André René Roussimoff – better known by his ring name André the Giant.
André, the child
André’s choice for a ring name was the right one for more than one reasons. The obvious one would be his measurements – standing 7 foot 4, with a body weight of 520 lbs, he was a prominent figure with big shoes to fill (literally). His body grew this big due to a condition called “gigantism” – the overproduction of growth hormone in childhood. Even as a child, it was obvious that he will be big – at the age of 12, he was 6 ft 3, and weight 208 lbs. He was so big that he didn’t fit in the bus that would’ve taken him to school – playwright Samuel Beckett, living in the vicinity of André’s family, often drove him to school in his truck.
André, the wrestler
His size drove André toward professional wrestling at the age of 17. By day, he worked as a mover in Paris. By night, he fought in the ring under the alias “Géant Ferré”. He soon started to make a name for himself in Europe and beyond. He moved to Japan in 1970, then he went on to Canada to pursue his pro wrestling career. Ultimately, he took on the stage name André the Giant and started his World Wide Wrestling Federation (later WWF) in 1973 with a victory, and went on with an undefeated streak (at least in the WWF) for the next 14 years.
After years of feuds with wrestling stars like Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts, The Ultimate Warrior, and others, he left the spotlight in 1990, fighting in Japan, Mexico, and making sporadic appearances in the WWF. After a final match for All Japan Pro Wrestling, he retired from professional wrestling at the age of 46.
André, the pop culture phenomenon
As many other wrestlers, André also had some movie and TV roles under his (big) belt, although most of the times his contribution was episodic at best. His best-known feature film role was in the 1987 Oscar nominee “The Princess Bride” – he played Fezzik, the giant fighter helping Indigo Montoya get his revenge.
Aside from the ring and the big screen, André left his footprint in many other aspects of popular culture. Did you know, for example, that he is the sole professional wrestler with a video slot machine inspired by him? The “André the Giant” slot machine, one of the more popular games at All Slots Australian online casino, is the only game – not only at the All Slots but across the whole gambling industry – to feature a real-life hero of the ring. While there are other wrestling-themed video slots at the All Slots and other gaming venues, he is the only WWF star to make it into this realm. The All Slots covers close to any topic with its games, from cricket (which was one of André’s preferred topic as a child) to motorsports, and the addition of his likeness to a slot machine makes its lineup complete.
André René Roussimoff left early, at the age of 47, due to congestive heart failure. Ironically, he was in Paris attending his father’s funeral when he met his demise. He passed through the world for a short time, but his presence was not left unnoticed, neither is he forgotten to this day. He was the inaugural member of the WWF Hall of Fame created by the then-World Wrestling Federation in 1993. André was the inspiration for My Giant, a movie written by his friend Billy Crystal, starring Gheorghe Muresan, former Romanian NBA player, also suffering from gigantism. His life was the subject of the documentary André the Giant: Larger Than Life, that aired in 1999, the 2014 graphic novel André The Giant: The Life and The Legend, and the 2015 graphic novel André the Giant: Closer to Heaven, which might serve as a basis for a possible future biopic about his life.