Sports

How Big Was Andre the Giant?

André René Roussimoff was better known by his nickname Andre the Giant. He was also known as the Eighth Wonder of the World because of his enormous size. For two-plus decades Andre was a wrestling superstar and entertained audiences around the world. Outside of the ring, he also impressed doing freakishly superhuman things only a man of his size could do like drinking a mind-boggling amount of beer in one sitting. How big was Andre the Giant?

Andre before he became a giant

Andre the Giant was born in 1946 with a condition called gigantism or acromegaly. A main symptom of the condition is the body continues to produce growth hormones. For Andre, that meant by the time he turned 13, he was already the size of a large adult male.

Due to his large size, his father used him on the family farm, where his brother Jacques once said he could perform the work of three men. As he grew older, Andre became unsatisfied with farm work and dropped out of school. He moved from the countryside to the big city of Paris, where he worked as a mover by day and began training as a wrestler in the evening.

By the mid 1960s, Andre had made a name for himself wrestling in the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. In 1971, Andre made his way to North America and Canada, where he became a huge success regularly selling out the Montreal Forum. Eventually, the attendance to his matches began to dwindle as promoters were unable to match him up against plausible opponents due to his enormous size. 

Enter Vince McMahon.

Inside the ring he used his size and strength to his advantage

When Vince McMahon came into the picture, he completely overhauled Andre’s persona. Instead of a wrestler who could perform various maneuvers like dropkicks, McMahon wanted him to be viewed as an immovable beast. It was also at this same time, McMahon dubbed him “Andre the Giant.”

Over the next 20 years, Andre developed numerous rivalries with other wrestlers, including Hulk Hogan, who he battled with for the first time in 1980 at Shea Stadium. The pair feuded for many years. Initially, Andre was the hero, and Hogan was the villain, but this changed over the course of their many matches. 

Per McMahon’s request years earlier, Andre moved around methodically in the ring, although later in his career, the pain from his condition caused him to move more slowly. Despite his pain, he often showed his immense strength picking up other wrestlers with ease and slamming them down like rag dolls. In one match, he picked up two 200-pound wrestlers, one over each shoulder, and walked around the ring before depositing them.

In his career, Andre had a record of 127-23-41. He retired in 1992.

How big was Andre the Giant?

During his career, Andre the Giant was billed as a 7-foot-4-inch 520-pound wrestler. While his height was never officially recorded, later in life, after having back surgery, he was measured at just under seven feet. His weight was over 500 pounds.

His enormous size allowed him to do some pretty spectacular things outside of the ring as well. One of the things he was most well-known for was drinking. In the HBO documentary Andre the Giant, he would regularly consume a case of wine or four six-packs in one sitting. WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair said in the documentary he once witnessed Andre drink 106 beers in a single sitting.

Andre the Giant
Andre the Giant throwing Mike Adams.

According to one friend, Andre also had an appetite that could match his drinking. If he wanted to put on a show and entertain his guests at dinner, he would eat as many as 12 steaks and 15 lobsters.

In a 1981 Sports Illustrated article, Andre described how he would have fun with his superhuman strength by lifting a friend’s car and moving it to another spot. The vehicle would then be wedged between a lamppost and a building or facing the wrong way on the street.

Andre also earned big checks during his prime where he was reportedly paid $400,000 per year in the 1970s. In 1993, he was the inaugural inductee into the newly created WWF Hall of Fame and he was later a charter member of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. 

Unfortunately, as is often the case for individuals with gigantism, Andre the Giant died at a young age in 1993. He was 46.