Author: Box Brown

That wacky world of professional wrestling!  I’ve always loved it and at the same time, been creeped out by it.  No matter how much they slick it up, no matter how much money they dump in it--it can never shake its sleazy, carnival barking aura.  Cheep, childish, and savage.  Wonderful!  It’s the proverbial “great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”  In other words--a libertarian paradise.  Box Brown writes:

“The idea of truth in professional wrestling is certainly elastic and is connected to the idea of the wrestler as product.  Wrestlers are acutely aware they are products to be sold.  For most of professional wrestling’s history wrestlers were paid for work as independent contractors.  They were forced to take care of all of their own expenses, including medical bills, and could be disposed of at any time.  At the same time, they were told to put the company above all else.  If the company made money everyone made money.  Money is the only morality in professional wrestling.  Things that made money are good.  Period.  The end.  Truth?  Who needs it?”

If that isn’t an Ayn Rand wet dream, nothing is.  This goes a long way in explaining the rightwing, super patriot goofiness of these nutty characters both inside and out of the “squared circle.”  The lone exception being Rowdy Roddy Piper, who complained about the mega millionaire professional wrestling owners—McMahon—for pouring multimillions into political campaigns while not spending so much as a nickel on health care for their performers.  Disgusting.  

Anyway, the story starts off with Andre at 12-years-old—Molien, France, 1958.

At this age, Andre wasn't allowed on the school bus because he was deemed too large.  So, a ride to school is set up with a pal of Andre's father--one Mr. Beckett--who happens to be a playwright. (!!!) A small world, indeed.  Mr. Beckett tells Andre that he'll likely see him on stage someday.  Andre dismisses this without an afterthought.

A number of years later, Andre makes a living at moving/delivering furniture and appliances.  One day, Andre strikes up a conversation with a prostitute and she suggests that he try out fighting for cash at a place she works on Tuesdays.  He’s a smash hit, of course!

Over the years Andre has to suffer drunkards calling him out in public spaces.  He rarely engages with these idiots.  However, on occasion he'd follow them out to the parking lot, wait for them to get in their car, and overturn the whole kit and kaboodle!  YIKES!

Andre suffered from Acromegaly: a chronic disease characterized by enlargement of the bones of the head, the soft parts of the feet and hands, and sometimes other structures, due to excessive secretion of growth hormone by the pituitary gland.

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The book is filled with Andre anecdotes from his travels around the world.  Fights with fellow wrestlers.  Troubles with finding beds and toilets.  His less than admirable handling of the child he fathered.  He was most definitely flawed.  Andre wasn't necessarily "driven”, he just absolutely loved being a professional wrestler.

He fit Hollywood like a glove.  And it's easy to tell that his Hollywood highlight was The Princess Bride.  Christopher Guest made sure to shake Andre's hand everyday he was on the set.

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The Hollywood connection started years before Andre ever actually appeared on the screen.  In 1975, a white fighter, Chuck Wepner, challenged Muhammad Ali to a fight and lasted all fifteen rounds before losing the decision.  This story obviously inspired the first Rocky movie.  A year later, Chuck Wepner went into the ring with Andre, which surely inspired the wrestler vs. the boxer scene in Rocky III.

Andre, like all of us, was a flawed person.  The shadows and nooks of the book reveal that he was somewhat of a deadbeat dad, a bully at times, and an alcoholic to a point.  He wasn't well-liked by all of his coworkers or his fans/fanatics.

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Rubbing coworkers the wrong way.

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Not all fans were gracious.  LOL!

Andre talked often of retiring and taking it easy on his ranch, but what he really wanted was to spend the rest of his life traveling the world as a professional wrestler.  And that's exactly what he did.