Terry Bollea—or, as you know him, Hulk Hogan—is arguably the biggest name in the history of professional wrestling. Not only is he a twelve-time world champion, a six-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion and a six-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, but he’s also the most recognized name and face in wrestling in the world.
Hogan, however, isn’t just an interesting character inside the ring; he’s also an interesting character outside of it. Born in Georgia to Pietro Bollea, a construction foreman, and Ruth Moody, a dance teacher, and raised in Port Tampa, Florida, Hogan has led quite the life. Before hitting the wrestling stratosphere, he was an oversized kid who excelled at sports and loved rock and roll. He discovered his passion for wrestling when he was 16, idolizing guys like Dusty Rhodes and Superstar Billy Graham.
His celebrity has transcended the world of wrestling to the point that even non-wrestling fans know who he is. As a result of his popularity, he ventured into acting, starring in movies, television shows, and commercials. He even co-hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live in 1985. His name and likeness have also been used for a number of products, including a blender, a grill, nutritional products, and burgers (“Hulkster Burgers”). In 2005, he starred in his own reality show, Hogan Knows Best, which followed the daily lives of him and his family.
With all these life experiences, you know there’s going to be some incredible stories. Here’s the list of the top 13 insane real-life Hulk Hogan stories.
13 He Choked Out Richard Belzer on TV
12 The George Foreman Grill was Almost The Hulk Hogan Grill
11 The Origin Story Behind his Nickname
There seems to be a bit of mystery surrounding the origin story of Hulk Hogan’s famous ring name. According to legend, it came about when he was a young wrestler in the Continental Wrestling Association. At the time, he appeared on a radio show with Lou Ferrigno, who played the Incredible Hulk on TV. After it was discovered that Hogan was actually three inches taller than Ferrigno, who’s roughly 6’4”, he decided to adopt the name for himself. The last name Hogan came about because of Vince McMahon.
10 Legal Issues with Marvel Over Use of his Name
9 He Claims that he was Asked to Play Bass for Metallica
8 He Sued Laser Spine Institute for $50 million
Because of his size and the toll that wrestling takes on the body, Hogan has had a long history of back problems. In fact, he’s had so many surgeries to repair his bad back that he’s lost about three inches of height, leaving him a slightly less hulking 6’4”.
7 He was Huge at the Age of 12
6 He Broke his Leg in His First Wrestling Match
5 He was Asked to Play Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin
4 He was a Good Baseball Player and was Scouted by MLB Teams
3 He Contemplated Suicide After his Divorce
As a result of his brutal divorce, with longtime wife Linda Claridge, which led to him losing a great deal of his assets, Hogan was brought to the brink of suicide. And it was an unlikely person who talked him out of it. Hogan credits Laila Ali, daughter of famed boxer Muhammad Ali, for saving his life. At the time, Hogan and Ali were working together on the TV show American Gladiators.
2 He’s the Most Recognizable Wrestler of All Time
1 He’s the Only Wrestler to Ever Appear on the Cover of Sports Illustrated
Think of all the wrestling greats over the years—John Cena, CM Punk, The Rock, Ric Flair, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Sting, and so many others. None of them ever appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Only Hulk Hogan can lay claim to that honor. In 1985, wearing his “Hulkster” headband and looking meaner than ever, he graced the front page of the biggest sports magazine in America, helping to bring pro wrestling to the mainstream.
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