Had you seen André René Roussimof in person, you might have thought you were staring at a character ripped right from the pages of a fairy tale. The man more commonly known as André the Giant stood at seven feet and four inches tall and weighed about 520 pounds. Still, numbers and descriptions could never truly capture the essence of this larger-than-life legend.
Luckily, numerous photographers chronicled the life of the man they called the Eighth Wonder of the World. Their photographs illustrated not just the sheer size and spectacle that was André the Giant, but also, what it meant to be the pro-wrestler turned entertainer—both the good and the bad.
1. At his largest, André the Giant stood at seven feet and four inches and weighed about 520 pounds. He was a pro-wrestler and an entertainer, but more importantly, he was a man who inspired awe wherever he went.
2. André the Giant had a disease called acromegaly, meaning his pituitary gland produced too much growth hormone. He grew so big that little kids couldn’t help but stare up at him in sheer amazement. Just look at that size difference!
3. By the time he was 12 years old, André the Giant (right) was already six-foot-three and 240 pounds. He grew so fast that his parents didn’t recognize him when he returned home from a five-year stay in Paris, where he lived from the ages of 14 through 19.
4. Even among his fellow wrestlers, André was huge. When he started his pro-wrestling career in Paris at age 17, he was nicknamed “Géant Ferré” after a French folk hero. And over his lifetime, he became the focus of several legends and folk tales himself.
5. André’s persona was shrouded in myth. One legend goes that, when a group of (very dimwitted) men harassed him one evening, he followed them to the parking lot and flipped their car… with all four of them in it.
André the Giant was a spectacular figure who attracted attention wherever he went; it brought him fame, but unfortunately, great pain, too. His life is a reminder that even the people we think have it all are only human.
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