André René Roussimoff was born in a small farming community in Grenoble, France to Boris and Marian Rouismoff. His parents and four siblings were all of normal size, but André suffered from acromegaly, a hormonal disorder that results when the pituitary gland produces excess growth hormone. As the Giant grew up (very quickly, as he reached the height of 6′ 3″ by the age of 12) he began to often disagree with his parents. He left home at 14 and obtained a job with a furniture-moving firm and began to play rugby. At 17 he was seen training at a gym by several professional wrestlers. Impressed by his size, they taught him some basic wrestling skills and built a friendship with him. Later, when one of the wrestlers was injured, André stepped in for him. He would wrestle for nearly thirty more years. By his early 20s André had wrestled in Algeria, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, England, Scotland, and most of non-Communist Europe but had not found fame. In 1971 he came to North America under the name Jean Ferre and was mildly popular in Canada. Then he met a New York based booker by the name of Vincent J. McMahon (often incorrectly referred to as “Vince McMahon Sr”) who renamed him “Andre the Giant,” and billed him as 7′ 4″ (Andre was really closer to 7′). Soon Andre the Giant became a national sensation and was a much sought after wrestler. In addition he participated in television, movies, and commercials. With his wealth the Giant bought a ranch in Ellerbe, North Carolina where he would live during his rare time off and after he retired from wrestling in 1990. He died while in France after attending his father’s funeral. André was cremated and his ashes were spread across his ranch. He is survived by his one daughter.
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