The giant was a lonely man
Whilst Roussimoff is incredibly famous for his wrestling, acting and size, he was regarded as a particularly lonely man. The pressure of going out in public was often upsetting for him because of the staring and pointing so he would often spend time on his own. He was also untrusting of people who were friendly towards him and wanted his wealth.
He enjoyed farting on his opponents
Roussimoff enjoyed amusing himself with his opponents including antics like stepping on their long hair or wringing out his sweaty singlet on them. Once of his most enjoyed moments was squatting over Jake Roberts, also known as The Snake, to let off his flatulence, reported to last at least 30 seconds.
He was challenged with enormous hands
It was said that his fingers were so large silver dollars could pass through his rings, posing special challenges for him. Roussimoff couldn’t play a piano because one finger would press three keys at once. This also meant that he was unable to use the traditional rotary phones without a pencil.
He had an impact on Hollywood
Billy Crystal was so moved by meeting Roussimoff during the filming of The Princess Bride that he wanted to create a script dedicated to him. Although the resulting movie flopped, it demonstrated just how inspirational Roussimoff was. A character in the Street Fighter video game series, Hugo Andore, is also based off of Roussimoff.
His parents didn’t recognize him because of how fast he grew
After leaving home at 14, Roussimoff returned five years later at 19 years old. This was after he had broken into the wrestling world and he was boasting an incredible height of nearly seven feet tall. Due to his growth, his parents were unaware it was their son knocking at their door and even watched him wrestle on TV without knowing it was him!
He made his film debut in Casse-tête chinois pour le judoka
Made in France, the film is about a judo player trying to save the world from nuclear disaster. Roussimoff’s part was small in the production and he was credited as a fighter. This was the first film he was featured in and the start of a fruitful career in Hollywood, revealing his hidden ability to act.
Samuel Beckett drove him to school
In the 1950’s, the iconic writer Samuel Beckett was living near the Roussimoff residence and often drove down the street that the local children would walk to school on. Beckett would stop his truck and allow the children (including Roussimoff) to jump into the back for a lift to school.
His later wrestling years were painful
It was commented on after a match in 1987 between Roussimoff and Hulk Hogan that his performance was nowhere near what he was able to do in his early career. The toll that his size took on his body caused pains in various places and made it difficult for him to perform maneuvers that he was capable of doing when his career began.
He had an unusual love for QVC
Due to the uncomfortable feelings he had about leaving his home and being in public, shopping was a struggle. When he discovered the shopping channel QVC, everything changed for him. Whether it was steam mops or butterflies, he was absolutely in love with being able to shop from the comfort of his own home.
He had a spinal surgery
In 1986, Roussimoff underwent spinal surgery. His condition, in combination with the choice of wrestling as a career, caused havoc on his health. Because of this, he was required to have dedicated surgeries to managed all of his health problems, spinal being one of the biggest. After recovering from this and returning to the ring, he had to wear a back brace for support.
He passed away shortly after his Father
In January of 1993, Roussimoff flew to Paris to go to his Father’s funeral. He was 46 and reports say his health wasn’t in good condition. After the funeral, he spent quality time playing cards with his family andn friends. He returned to his hotel room and sadly passed away in bed after having a heart attack, likely brought on by untreated health problems.
His beer consumption was legendary
Due to Roussimoff’s size, he was capable of consuming huge volumes of beer in comparison to his peers. It has been alleged that he had been known to consume a hundred beers in one sitting. Fortunately, beer didn’t seem to affect him in the same way as it did his peers. He never had hangovers and was always in tip-top shape for his next match!
He never dropped out of school
Over the years, it has been written that Roussimoff dropped out of school at the age of 14. This wasn’t actually the case, because children would only be enrolled in school until the age of 14 at this time. He completed his studies and worked various jobs including farming before finding his place in the wrestling community.
He was too big for the army
During this time in France, at the age of 18, it was mandatory for men to sign up into the army. At this time, Roussimoff had already started his wrestling career but when he went to join he was turned away. Although it was initially thought the rejection would be for medical reasons, it was actually because they didn’t have a uniform to fit him.
He has an unusual tree-filled home
He spent most of his time in North Carolina at his ranch home. What was unusual and unique about this place was that there was a singular tree growing right through the middle of it of the building. It was three stories high, and the tree grew through every floor!
The start of the WWE hall of fame
Two months after Roussimoff’s death, the WWE announced the launch of the now well-renowned Hall of Fame. As a beautiful tribute to the career of Roussimoff, they made him the first and the only entrant that year. It serves as a constant reminder of how much of an inspiration he was to so many.
He weighed an estimated 520 pounds
He was so well-known and recognised because of his height, but his weight was also very noticeable. Being a leading wrestler (and the training needed for that) increased his weight to a record-breaking 520 pounds. This is nearly the same weight as a baby grand piano!
He disliked public outings
Roussimoff was known for his gentle and fun-loving nature. Unfortunately, entering into public spaces with strangers who didn’t know him would have an upsetting impact. He was always disappointed that people would be scared of him and run away. Sometimes, children would also scream at he sight of him, which he found deeply saddening.
He lifted Arnold Schwarzenegger off the ground
He always paid for outings with friends and family that he loved and didn’t like it when others would get the bill. Once, Arnold Schwarzenegger sneaked off to pay the bill after dinner and when Roussimoff found out, he and his companions lifted him up, took him outside, and dropped him on his car!
He had a daughter
He met a woman in the wrestling industry in the 70s and they had a child together. The relationship between Roussimoff and his daughter was strained because he felt that his presence was never a positive experience for her. He always said that this was his biggest regret and left nearly all of his fortune to her when he died.
Hotel staff were unable to move him
Alcohol never really impacted him, but there was one occasion when it did. According to one Carly Elwes, from The Princess Bride, he once passed out drunk in a hotel lobby, but because of his size the staff were unable to move him. The best that they could do was put a velvet robe around him and wait until he awoke.
Wrestling feud and friendship with Hulk Hogan
The rivalry between Roussimoff and Hulk Hogan was said to be one of the most important in the history of wrestling. Pitched as rivals, they had such great respect for one another that they formed a wonderful friendship. Due to the media buzz around their competitions they were continually portrayed as each other’s nemesis, but enjoyed each other’s company outside of the ring.
He had an aversion to pain medication
Due to Roussimoff’s size, pain medication had little impact on him. Doctors would be unable to prescribe the correct amount of pain relief he needed for the symptoms he had safely. Consequently, when he took any medication it had next-to-no impact. It was said that he self-medicated with alcohol but was rarely intoxicated.
A giant from birth
Roussimoff was born in France on May 19th, 1946. He was a shocking 13 pounds when he was born. The average weight for a newborn is seven pounds, so he was almost double the average of a normal baby. As he got older, he grew to a grand total of seven feet, four inches.
He made world record earnings in wrestling
When he died, his net worth was an estimated $5 million. Calculated for the adjustment in inflation for today, it is estimated that his net worth would be double, at $10 million. This would make him one of the top 30 richest wrestlers in the world if he was still alive today.
Travelling was difficult due to his size
It isn’t difficult to imagine how difficult it would have been for someone of Roussimoff’s size to use public transport. Whether it was getting on a bus, into a taxi or on a train, his extreme height left little room for comfort or any other passengers. Coupled with strangers staring, travelling was an uncomfortable ordeal for the wrestler.
He hid his back brace
After returning to the ring after his back surgery, he was limited to what he moves he was able to perform. To help his ailing frame, he wore a back brace. Although his declining performance was obvious to those who watched him, his back brace remained only known to few people as he hid it with his black singlet.
He enjoyed moving cars as pranks
There’s no denying his strength, this is what made him such a tough competitor in the wrestling ring. However, he was unable to use traditional weights for training as they didn’t contribute enough when increasing his performance. One of his favourite party tricks (which he counted as resistance training) was to move his friends’ cars or turn them around!
The generosity giant
Unlike some others in the wrestling community who were set on penny-pinching, Roussimoff was known for his generosity. His kindness knew no bounds, whenever he was with friends he enjoyed being able to take care of the bill and share his wealth with those he loved.
He had a limited interest in women
Due to his condition, he had a limited desire to be with women. However, there are some close friends who have reported some wild evenings that Roussimoff had as women flocked to him. Fame, fortune and kindness all made him appealing to the women around him.
He refused treatment for fear of weakness
Roussimoff believed that God made him the way he was for a reason and he didn’t want to change that. He thought he was purposefully made to be as strong as he was and whilst surgery might have made his life more comfortable, it would have impacted his strength and he didn’t want to be considered weak.
A life expectancy of only 40
He had acromegaly (the abnormal growth) which affected his health in many ways, including his life expectancy. When left untreated, the condition grows in riskiness. Doctors told him that he would likely make it to around the age of 40. However, he did exceed this prediction and died at the age of 46.
He hated baby oil
He didn’t like it when his opponents wore baby oil in the ring. Baby oil was often used to enhance the look of muscles and there was one opponent who Roussimoff never got along with because of it. Randy Savage never backed down on his use of baby oil and they never got along, likely because of this reason.
A Giant at the Age of 12
Remarkably, at the age of 12, he had already grown to six feet and three inches, when the average height for this age is around five feet. He also weighed an incredible 200 pounds which is approximately the same weight as a a refrigerator. He was most definitely the tallest in his class.
He moved to Paris at 18
After being rejected from the army because of his size, he moved to Paris, where he met Robert Lageat. Whilst training at night, Lageat saw his sheer strength and raw power, which was a positive of his size. From then on until his WWE debut, Roussimoff worked as a mover during the day to afford his living expenses.
He was diagnosed at birth
Whilst it was unclear how his size would impact his future, when he was born, Doctors immediately diagnosed him with gigantism. It is a very rare medical condition, and the sheer size of a newborn Roussimoff left little-to-no room for assumption. It was acromegaly, and he only continued to grow very quickly.
Vincent McMahon Sr changed his wrestling career
Vincent McMahon Sr helped Roussimoff build a career with the well-known nickname, The Giant. He encouraged him to stop using moves that made him look clumsy and choose ones that demonstrated his strength because of his size. McMahon also helped his with publicity and earning a larger wage.
His 1981 feud made him famous
Before his match with Killer Khan, Roussimoff broke his ankle when getting out of bed. When the match happened, everyone thought that Khan had remarkably broken his opponent’s ankle. Because this story was much more exciting that an accident happening at home, his publicists chose to use this story, contributing to his infamy.
He had many tv and film appearances
He is most well-known for his appearance in The Princess Bride, but has been in many other films, as well as TV appearances. He was with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Destroyer as well as featuring in The Fall Guy, The Greatest American Hero, BJ, The Bear and even Zoro.
Mark Valios took him worldwide
Only two years after starting his wrestling career he met Mark Valios, who became his business manager. Valios took him to Germany, New Zealand, Africa, Britain, Australia, Japan and Canada. Roussimoff ended up living in both Japan and Canada for a time during his career.