Andre The Giant: Fierce In The Ring But Mr. Nice Guy In Real Life

Though his English was not good or intelligible, Andre the Giant, the pro wrestler, became a beloved entertainer for an American and global fan base. He was fierce in the ring, standing over 7 feet tall and weighing over 500 pounds, there was little doubt that he could cause pain and humiliation against men who seemed to be half his size.

But Andre Rene Roussimoff projected a good-natured personality when not playing the vicious heel grappler — it’s a cliche, but he did seem to be a gentle giant. Andre the Giant was generous with the money he’d made from wrestling and acting; Andre the Giant liked to party, perhaps a little too much; and Andre the Giant had a posse ,this charismatic beast of a man was well liked, and mourned by the wrestling community when he died at the age of 46.

Andre the Giant – Early Life

  • André the Giant was born André René Roussimoff, on May 19, 1946, in Molien, France, to Boris and Mariann. His family worked on the farms and they barely made a living.
  • André showed signs of gigantism very early in his life. Gigantism is an ailment of growth hormones that allows the body to grow beyond normal.
  • He hit the height of 6 feet 3 inches when he was 12 years old, and he never quite stopped growing even after that.
  • This was a strange occurrence, as he had shown no signs of hormonal imbalance when he was a kid.

All That Size Had To Be Good For Something

CANADA – FEBRUARY 27: Andre The Giant spews vitriol at the referee as fans put in their two cents’ worth.

Andre the Giant hailed from France, where he began his wrestling career at the age of 18. He was trained by a man named, Frank Valois, a former French wrestler, himself. Andre’s enormous body was a sight to behold.

Frank Valois was not just Andre the Giant’s trainer but also his bodyguard — and yes, when you think about Andre’s mammoth stature, it is almost comical that he needed a bodyguard. Andre stood 7 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed 520 pounds. He began his pro wrestling career in 1966 and didn’t take long to make a name and following for himself. His first stop was Paris, where his talent was quickly realized. Andre made his debut on the Japanese wrestling scene in 1970 where he was billed as “Monster Roussimoff.” Eventually, he made his way to the United States, where he was met with open arms. He put on quite a show.

Andre the Giant was the first international wrestling great and was introduced to American wrestling fans when he joined the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), later known as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

Wrestling Introduced Andre To America

Andre the Giant (

Andre was an all-time fan favorite here in America. He went 15 years without suffering an official defeat in WWF matches, although he did lose some bouts when he wrestled outside the WWF.

He was not only a good showman but also a giant… a gentle giant. Andre was such a crowd pleaser that he was the first person to ever be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame (class of 1993).

Andre The Giant’s Size Was A Result Of A Condition Called Gigantism

Andre the Giant (WWE)

Gigantism is a condition that is caused by the body having excess growth hormones. This condition catapulted Andre the Giant to the top of the wrestling world. He was so large that he was referred to as, “the eighth wonder of the world.”

Andre the Giant was featured in the 1974 Guinness Book Of World Records being named the highest paid wrestler in history to date at that time.

A Big, Big — Huge — Star

Andre the Giant with Robin Wright in ‘The Princess Bride’ (1987). Source: IMDB

Andre the Giant appeared in numerous TV series, including The Six Million Dollar Man and BJ And The Bear, and a handful of movies. By far, the role for which he will be remembered, is that of Fezzik in The Princess Bride (1987). The chemistry between the immense, deep-voiced Fezzik and his smaller, whiny companion Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) was one of the strengths of the film:

Vizzini: No more rhymes now, I mean it.

Fezzik: Anybody want a peanut?