Though professional wrestling is such an athletically-driven industry, there is no shortage of overweight athletes who have found success in the ring. In fact, overweight might be putting in lightly. The perfectly-sculpted wrestler with 24-inch pythons and not an ounce of body fat might be a great in-ring worker, but might lack the charisma and personality of some of the giants who have won professional wrestling championships. The Big Show, Yokozuna, and Andre The Giant, for example, all contributed greatly to the WWE brand while holding championship belts and not always because of their athleticism.
Okay, those three might not be the poster boys for charisma, but sometimes there's simply few things more entertaining that watching a 300-plus pound wrestler navigate a match. If they can keep up and add some flare to the match at the same time, then chances of success are high. Some of the wrestlers on this list were capable of doing both, while others were no more than sideshow acts.
In this list, we'll take a look at 20 of the heaviest wrestlers to enter the squared circle and see where they are now.
20 Maximum Capacity
Former independent promotion wrestler Michael Stanco wrestled under the name Maximum Capacity and was billed as the "World's Largest Athlete," and though the term athlete might be a bit of a stretch, he did perform a variety of signature moves from a sidewalk slam to a delayed scoop slam and clothesline.
A former Future of Wrestling Hardcore Champion and World Class Extreme Wrestling Champion, Stanco was listed as 6-foot-1 and 650 lbs during his wrestling career. He posted a GoFundMe page in 2014 asking for help in raising $5,000 for a proper Catholic funeral and burial after being diagnosed with Stage IV terminal rectal cancer. He died later that year at 46 and with $4,340 of his $5,000 goal raised.
Fred Ottman was a close friend to John Tenta and one half of The Natural Disasters as Typhoon. Prior to that, however, Ottman wrestled as Tugboat Tyler, Tugboat Thomas, and eventually just Tugboat. In essence, he was a larger, Popeye the Sailor Man.
He wrestled in other promotions including WCW, where his infamous Shockmaster character botched a debut so bad that his gimmick was immediately changed to make him a clumsy goof. A 2007 story on WWE.com stated Ottman was then working in Lakeland, Florida as safety manager for Gaffin Industrial Services. "I made a career out of killing guys in the ring," Ottman told WWE.com. "Now, I get paid to keep them safe. I've got a lot of roughnecks working with me now, and we have a good time. It's like being back on the road."
He's still in good standing with the WWE as his character Typhoon was included in the WWE 2K17 game. His Tugboat character was recently depicted in the WWE comic book "Then.Now.Forever."
At 6-foot-7 and 468 pounds, Earthquake was a big-time star for WWE during the early 90s, winning the Tag Team Championships with Typhoon as The Natural Disasters and feuding with Hulk Hogan - he and Hogan were the last two men standing in the 1991 Royal Rumble.
After his initial stint with the company, Earthquake, whose real name is John Tenta, worked for WCW and later returned to the WWE as a member of The Oddities under the name Golga - he was the guy who wore a skin-toned mask and was obsessed with South Park character Eric Cartman in what can only be regarded as the WWE's laziest gimmick during the Attitude Era. Tenta retired in 2004 and shared news that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer. He died two years later, leaving behind a wife and three children.
17 Bam Bam Bigelow
Scott Charles Bigelow wrestled for ECW, WCW, and WWE during his 21-year career. Though he never won any WWE titles (he headlined WrestleMania XI with Lawrence Taylor), he was a five-time champion in ECW and WCW, winning the ECW World Championship once. Bigelow last wrestled for American Combat Wrestling in 2006. The 6-foot-4, 390 pound wrestler with the flame-tattooed head passed away in January 2007 from a drug overdose. An autopsy discovered toxic amounts of cocaine and an anti-anxiety drug in his system.
Because he died at just 45-years-old, there isn't much to report on Bigelow's post-wrestling career, though he did once consider a career in Mixed Martial Arts - at least, until he ;lost a match that lasted mere minutes in November of 1996.
16 Man Mountain Mike
Checking in at 6-foot-4, 623 pounds, Gary Fletcher was discovered at an all-you-can-eat buffet in California (naturally). He wrestled as Man Mountain Mike from 1968-77 in the National Wrestling Alliance and the World Wide Wrestling Federation, among other promotions. Given his massive size, his finishing move was a simple big splash, though he was relatively successful in the NWA, twice holding the Television Championship and once winning the NWA Americas Tag Team Championship with Butcher Brannigan.
Fletcher died at 47-years-old in April of 1988 after a staph infection he developed on a cut he had suffered on his leg caused blood clots. In addition to running separate dry cleaning and taxi businesses, Fletcher also drove a school bus, which was where he initially cut his leg.
15 Bastion Booger
Mike Shaw wrestled under more than a dozen monikers in his 12-year wrestling career, but was perhaps most known for his Bastion Booger character in the WWE. Primarily kept around for comedic relief and to get up-and-coming wrestlers over (he couldn't even beat Virgil and was one of the first to lose to underdog 1-2-3 Kid), the 6-foot-3, 401 pound Booger was once awarded the Slammy Award for "Most Likely to See Jenny Craig."
After retiring from the sport, Shaw opened a wrestling academy in Skandia, Michigan and worked security and public relations for a casino. He appeared for the WWE on a one night basis, appearing on the 15th anniversary special in 2007. Survived by his wife and two children, Shaw passed away from a sudden heart attack in 2010 in Marquette, Michigan. He was 53-years-old.
14 Gorilla Monsoon
At 6-foot-7 and 401 pounds, Robert James Marella embodied the ring name Gorilla Monsoon. Before portraying the on-screen WWE President in the mid-90s, Monsoon was a successful super heavyweight and commentator with the company. He was a prominent main eventer in the 1970s, winning a pair of Tag Team Championships and often headlining cards against Superstar Billy Graham and Andre the Giant.
He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1994. Gorilla Monsoon continued to appear frequently in televised events until his fatal heart attack in 1999. Months prior to his death, his rough condition was noticeable when he served as a judge for WrestleMania XV's Brawl for All.
Chadwick Haheo Rowan was born in Hawaii in 1969 and changed his name to Akebono Tarō in 1996 when he became a Japanese citizen. Prior to that, the 6-foot-8, 550 pound beast was already an established sumo wrestler, becoming the first non-Japanese person to be elevated to grand champion status (the highest rank in professional sumo) in 1993. He retired from sumo in 2001 and used a stint in the WWE to vault his pro wrestling career. Akebono defeated Big Show at WrestleMania 21 but immediately returned to Japan, where he has wrestled for various promotions.
In September of this year, Akebono formed a business partnership with Japan's Pro Wrestling Zero1, a promotion in which he has won a World Heavyweight Championship and a couple of Tag Team Championships.
Few super heavyweights were as athletic and impressive in the ring as Big Van Vader. The 6-foot-5, 450 pound wrestler, born Leon Allen White, could pull off a moonsault and his finishing move, the Vader Bomb, required some athleticism (and serious stones for whoever was on the receiving end). Though he never won a championship in his two-year stint in the WWE, he was a three-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion and had considerable success in Japan.
White has wrestled part time on the independent circuit since 2010 and made two appearances on Raw in 2012. He inducted Stan Hansen into the WWE Hall of Fame in April of 2016 and in November declared on his Twitter account (@itsvadertime) that heart doctors have told him he has just two years to live. In response to the news, an online campaign, led by Mick Foley, has taken up the cause of getting Vader inducted into the 2017 Hall of Fame class.
Edward Fatu had two stints in the WWE, one as one half of Eric Bischoff's Three Minute Warning goon squad and then from 2006-09 as Umaga. He won an Intercontinental Championship in his second stint and feuded with Ric Flair and John Cena, among other prominent names. He was also the reason Vince McMahon - and not Donald Trump - was forced to have his head shaved after losing to Bobby Lashley at WrestleMania 23.
The 6-foot-4, 350 pound Samoan was released from the WWE in June of 2009 for violating the company's Wellness Program and refusing to enter rehab. Months later, in December, it was announced Fatu had passed away from a heart attack in Houston, Texas. An official autopsy later revealed his death was the result of a toxic mix of painkillers, muscle relaxers, and anti-anxiety meds.
10 King Kong Bundy
At 6-foot-4 and 456 pounds, Christopher Alan Pallies was a fearful figure in the ring as King Kong Bundy. He had memorable feuds with both Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan in the mid-80s before leaving the company in 1988. He returned in 1994, but was released in October of 1995 after being given jobber status.
In an odd career change, Pallies is now performing stand-up comedy throughout the United States. The 59-year-old Atlantic City native now weighs 320 lbs, but likely still draws the odd laugh out of fear. He's on record saying he was never a wrestling fan and quickly became sick of the traveling, the egos of other wrestlers, and the "getting spit on by fans." Yet, he's on Twitter (@RealKKBundy), continuing to promote the King Kong Bundy character and interacting with fans.
9 Mark Henry
A former powerlifting champion, Mark Henry joined the WWE after competing in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Still active in the WWE today, Henry is a one-time World Heavyweight Champion, but perhaps his biggest contribution to the company is the sex-addicted Sexual Chocolate gimmick he took on in 1999, which gave us beautiful storylines such as Henry impregnating Mae Young. She later gave birth to a hand. Yes, a hand.
But to most he's known as The World's Strongest Man, because of his size (6-foot-4, 412 pounds) and weightlifting accolades. The two-time Olympian traveled to Rio de Janiero, Brazil this past summer to scout athletes and represent the WWE at the 2016 Summer Games. The 45-year-old has a following of more than one million on Twitter (@TheMarkHenry) and is set to appear alongside Aaron Eckhart in the latest WWE Studios film, Incarnate.
8 Haystacks Calhoun
One of the first true super heavyweights, William Dee Calhoun wrestled at 6-foot-4 and 663 pounds throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Though considered somewhat of a carnival sideshow at times, he was relatively athletic for his weight and could certainly help carry a match. During his lengthy career, Calhoun held multiple NWA championships and once held the World Wide Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship along with Tony Garea.
He lost his left leg to diabetes in 1986 and died three years later. He was 55-years-old. Calhoun's legacy lived on through the emergence of future oversized wrestlers like King Kong Bundy and One Man Gang, and he even entered popular fiction when Stephen King used the name Haystacks for a character in the novel It, reportedly because the character reminded him of Haystacks Calhoun.
7 Big Show
Paul Wight had a memorable run as The Giant in WCW, but the Tampa Bay native is best known as The Big Show, thanks to a lengthy career with the WWE. Wight began his WWE career as a member of The Vince McMahon-led Corporation and was immediately a main eventer. Though his weight fluctuated throughout the years, he returned to the WWE after a hiatus in 2008 and was noticeably slimmer. Today, he's listed at 6-foot-11 and 396 pounds.
The multiple-time World Heavyweight Champion and Tag Team Champion is still employed by the WWE and appears on Raw (not so much since the draft). In recent years he has become a mainstream media figure, appearing in film and TV. He headlined the 2015 film Vendetta along with Dean Cain - unsurprisingly, it didn't receive rave ratings - and appeared in a 2016 episode of Lip Sync Battle where he joined Olivia Munn on stage.
6 The McGuire Twins
Motorcylce-riding twins isn't much of a story, but it is when they weigh a combined 1,468 pounds. Billy and Benny McCrary wrestled briefly as a tag team in various promotions after a Honda-sponsored cross-country motorcycle trip gained the twins pop culture fame. Debuting in 1972, the twins wrestled in the NWA, New Japan Pro Wrestling and Stampede Wrestling, and though they never achieved much success, they certainly drew a crowd.
The story of their massive size goes like this: Both twins suffered from German Measles as kids, which threw their pituitary glands out of whack and caused them to balloon to 200 pounds by the time they were 10-years-old. By 16, they were both 600 lbs. Billy died following a motorcycle accident in 1979, while Benny lived until 2001, when he died of a heart failure. They have since been depicted in episodes of both Family Guy and The Simpsons.
Nelson Lee Frazier Jr. had an impressive wrestling career which spanned almost 20 years and included multiple stints in the WWE. Frazier joined the WWE in 1993 as Mabel and later turned heel as King Mabel, winner of the 1995 King of the Ring. His second stint with the WWE lasted from 2004-08 when he competed as Viscera and eventually changing to Big Daddy V. He wrestled on the independent circuit until 2013 and passed away from a heart attack in February of 2014.
The death certificate of the 6-foot-9, 500 pound 43-year-old listed obesity and heart damage caused by type 2 diabetes as factors of the heart attack. He also had various drugs and alcohol in his bloodstream at the time of his heart attack.
Brother of Umaga and creator of the most terrifying finisher in WWE history (the Stinkface), Solofa Fatu Jr. had an impressive 12-year career for the company. He won three Tag Team Championships, an Intercontinental Championship, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015. In the early 90s, Fatu Jr. wrestled as one half of prominent tag team The Headshrinkers, but gained more prominence with Too Cool (Scott 2 Hotty and Grandmaster Sexay) as Rikishi in the early 2000s. He also wrestled on the independent circuit and briefly with TNA.
The 6-foot-1, 425 pound Samoan is now 51-years-old and is active on both Twitter (@TheREALRIKISHI) and Instagram (@jrrikishifatu), where he posts photos with fans. He is the father of two-time Tag Team Champions, The Usos.
Rodney Agatupu Anoaʻi achieved considerable success in the WWE under the ring name Yokozuna, despite only spending four years with the company. The 6-foot-4, 641 pound Samoan fooled many as a Japanese sumo wrestler with the help of ring manager Mr. Fuji. Despite his size, Anoaʻi was one of the more athletic big men to enter the squared circle, as evidenced by his resume, which includes a pair of WWE World Heavyweight Championships. He also won the 1993 Royal Rumble.
He was released from the company in 1996 after not being medically cleared to wrestle in some states. He returned to the ring on the independent circuit toward the end of the century, but died in October of 2000 from pulmonary edema, a condition caused by excess fluid in the lungs. He was just 34-years-old at the time of his death.
2 Andre the Giant
André René Roussimoff was a larger than life wrestler with a personality to match. The 7-foot-4, 520 pound French native had symptoms of gigantism and was 6-foot-3, 208 lbs by the time he was 12-years-old. He began wrestling in the mid-1960s and eventually found his way to the WWWF in 1973 and stayed with the company off-and-on until 1992, at times carrying the promotion along with Hulk Hogan.
Andre's giant figure and his slurred speech made him an attractive movie star. He appeared in numerous films, including the cult hit The Princess Bride. And if wrestling and film were the two things he was most known for, drinking was the third. It's estimated that Andre The Giant drank around 7,000 calories worth of alcohol every day. He died in Paris in 1993 after suffering a congestive heart failure in his sleep.
1 Happy Humphrey
One sure sign that you might be no more than a sideshow or carnival act is if you get your start in the ring by fighting a bear. That's exactly how William Cobb, better known as Happy Humphrey, got his start in the business. In 1953, the once-billed 900 pound Cobb wrestled a bear for 28 minutes, which led to an eight-year wrestling career.
By 1962, he was confined to his bed and unable to move. He was able to prolong his life by losing an astonishing 570 pounds in a two-year span, following a supervised study at the Medical College of Georgia. At his lightest, Cobb checked in at 230 lbs and was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for losing the most weight in a one-year period. He didn't return to wrestling following the weight loss. Cobb died in 1989 after suffering a heart attack. He was back up to 600 pounds at the time of his death.
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