At 27th January of 1993, professional wrestler André the Giant passed away due to a congestive heart failure. André René Roussimoff (May 19, 1946 – January 27, 1993), known as André the Giant, was a French professional wrestler and actor. He most famously feuded with Hulk Hogan, culminating at WrestleMania III, and his best-remembered film role was that of Fezzik, the giant in "The Princess Bride". His size was a result of gigantism caused by excess growth hormone, which later resulted in acromegaly. It also led to him being called "The Eighth Wonder of the World". In the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now known as WWE), André was a WWF World Heavyweight Champion and a one-time WWF tag team champion. In 1993, André was the inaugural inductee into the WWF Hall of Fame.
André Roussimoff was born in Grenoble, France, to Boris and Mariann Roussimoff, a couple of Bulgarian and Polish ancestry. His nickname growing up was "Dédé". As a child, he displayed symptoms of his gigantism very early, reaching a height of 6'3" (190.5 cm) and a weight of 240 pounds (110 kg) by the age of 12. Playwright Samuel Beckett, a neighbor who later won the Nobel Prize for Literature, bought some land in 1953 near a hamlet around forty miles northeast of Paris.
He built a cottage for himself with the help of André's father Boris Rousimoff. When Beckett found out that Rousimoff was having trouble getting his son to school, Beckett offered to drive André to school in his truck, as he did not fit on the bus. When André recounted the drives with Beckett, he revealed that they rarely talked about anything other than cricket.
Roussimoff was a good student, particularly in mathematics, but he dropped out after the eighth grade since he did not think having a high school education was necessary for a farm laborer. He spent years working on his father's farm, where, according to his brother, Jacques, he could perform the work of three men. He also completed an apprenticeship in woodworking, and next worked in a factory that manufactured engines for hay balers. None of these occupations, however, brought him any satisfaction.
Roussimoff suffered from acromegaly, or "giantism," a endocrynological disorder that causes the body to secrete excessive amounts of growth hormones and produces continual growth, especially in the head, hands, and feet. He reportedly inherited the disease from his grandfather. One of five siblings, Roussimoff left his family's small farm at age fourteen. After training with the French wrestling champion Frank Valois, he wrestled in Montreal under the name Jean Ferre and in Japan as "Monster Roussimoff."
He became known for his baby face and intimidating physique, and soon proved virtually unbeatable in Canada's wrestling circuits. Valois, acting as his manager, set up a meeting with the wrestling promoter Vince McMahon, Sr. In 1973, Roussimoff debuted at Madison Square Garden as "Andre the Giant." During the 1970s, he wrestled more than 300 days a year and became one of the world's most famous professional athletes. Though he never lifted weights, he was thought by some to be the strongest man in the world.
On March 26, 1973, André debuted in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (later World Wrestling Federation) as a fan favorite, defeating Buddy Wolfe in New York's Madison Square Garden. André was one of professional wrestling's most beloved "babyfaces" throughout the 1970s and early 1980s.
As such, Gorilla Monsoon often stated that André had never been defeated for 15 years by pinfall or submission prior to WrestleMania III; however, André had lost in matches outside of the WWF: a pinfall loss in Mexico to Canek in 1984 and a submission loss in Japan to Antonio Inoki in 1986. He also had sixty-minute time limit draws with the two other major world champions of the day, Harley Race and Nick Bockwinkel.
André agreed to turn heel in early 1987 to be the counter to the biggest "babyface" in professional wrestling at that time, Hulk Hogan. At WrestleMania III, he was billed at 520 lb (240 kg), and the stress of such immense weight on his bones and joints resulted in constant pain.
After recent back surgery, he was also wearing a brace underneath his wrestling singlet. In front of a record crowd of 93,173 Hogan won the match after body slamming André (later dubbed "the bodyslam heard around the world"), followed by Hogan's running leg drop finisher. He remained dominant into the late 1980s, defeating Hulk Hogan for the World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Title on February 5, 1988.
At his largest, Roussimoff was probably six feet eleven inches tall, though he was advertised as seven feet four inches. He weighed close to five hundred pounds and was famous for his immense capacity for alcohol and food, it was once estimated that he consumed 7,000 calories a day in alcohol alone.
His phenomenal stature led to a movie role as Fezzik, the gentle giant in Rob Reiner's 1987 film, "The Princess Bride". Roussimoff also appeared in several other films and television shows, but Fezzik remained his most cherished role, he was known to carry a videotape of "The Princess Bride" with him when he traveled and hold frequent screenings at home and on the road. Roussimoff, who never married, lived most of the year on a 200-acre ranch in Ellerbe, North Carolina.
Unfortunately, as he grew older Roussimoff's size caused him frequent health problems. In 1986, he had surgery to relieve pressure on his spine and was thereafter forced to wear a back brace when he wrestled. By 1992, he had undergone extensive knee surgery and became increasingly overweight and immobile. He continued to wrestle, however, appearing for the last time in Japan, the country where he had always been celebrated the most in December of 1992. On January 27, 1993, Roussimoff died of an apparent heart attack in his hotel room in Paris, where he was staying after the burial of his father less than two weeks before.