The Hulkster stormed into the ring in the early ‘80s with his herculean physique, blond handlebar mustache, and definite charisma. In a career spanning over four decades, Hogan has been hoorayed, loved, booed, shunned, fired, hired, and, finally, enshrined in WWE’s Hall of Fame. As you can tell, he’s a controversial guy.
While he’s considered a legend in the ring, many fans question his fighting skills. He’s been known as somewhat of a backstage politician, constantly stepping on other wrestlers to get to the top. He’s also been called out for some hideous racial slurs.
But whether you like it or not, Hulkamania is here to stay, and it’s running wild, brother. Here’s everything you need to know about the highs and lows of this legendary wrestler’s life.
Before he became a ruthless wrestler who feared no man, beast, or evil, Hogan was (surprisingly) terrified of the ring. Speaking with Vice Magazine, he confessed that “growing up, even in high school,” he felt “scared to death” whenever he saw pro-wrestlers battle it out in the ring.
The young Hulkster was scared of those ruthless performers who looked like they could break your finger in a snap. According to Hogan, he wasn’t a big fan of sports in general (other than baseball) and had no interest in becoming one of those tough guys. His childhood ambitions had little to do with wrestling.
Growing up, Hogan had dreams of becoming a famous musician. He dropped out of college to play bass guitar for several aspiring rock bands, and the time he spent on stage with them made him realize how much he loved entertaining people.
At one of his concerts, two notorious wrestlers known as the Brisco brothers were impressed by his 6-foot 8 stature. They said he strummed “what looked like a toothpick in his hands.” Hulk’s hands looked like they could crush your skull in one go. So, the brothers walked up to him and suggested he give wrestling a try.
When Sylvester Stallone saw Hogan wrestle on TV, he was deeply impressed by the big, beefy guy. He believed that, with all due respect to wrestling, Hogan’s face belonged on the silver screen. He offered him a part in Rocky III as the villainous “Thunderlips.”
In the film, Thunderlips is a barbarian wrestler who mercilessly attacks Rocky during a charity match. While the scene was entertaining to watch, the stuntmen working on the set felt differently about it. The Hulkster wasn’t aware of his strength, so he ended up hurting three of them so badly that they had to be rushed to the hospital.
For those who don’t know (although I highly doubt people like that exist), wrestling is fake. Wrestlers know who’s going to win before the match even begins, thanks to the creative team who work on crafting sensational storylines. And the face-off between Hogan and Jeff Jarret at the 2000 Bash at the Beach was no exception.
The two were scheduled to go head-to-head for the title of World Heavyweight Champion, and the plan was for Hogan to come out as the winner after pinning Jarrett to the ground. But the show’s creative director, Vince Russo, had different plans. After the match, he accused Hogan of abusing the creative control he had in his contract to become champion.
Following Vince Russo’s humiliating speech, a new championship match was held between Jarrett and another WCW wrestler named Booker T. As for Hogan, he was furious about the whole ordeal and decided to sue for breach of contract.
He didn’t want to accept the storyline change and hated the fact that he was exposed like that. So, the only thing left to do was fight against Russo’s bold move. At the end of the day, and despite Hogan’s best efforts, the court ruled against him.
For years, people have been pointing fingers at Hogan for plotting his fake matches and victories backstage. The only reason he has remained on top for so long was because of his sly and crafty snake-like moves, maneuvering the storyline in his favor, and using everyone around him as mere puppets.
In dealing with this criticism, Hogan is super up-front, unapologetic, and blunt. The wrestler/backstage politician acknowledged his moves and flat out said in a 2018 interview: “That’s why I made more money than anybody, that’s why I kept the belt longer, that’s why … I had a 35-year run on top.”
Another great example of Hulk’s mischievous ways (and big ego) is what happened at the 1993 WrestleMania IX with Bret “the Hitman” Hart. Hart was an unbelievable fighter, but at the ninth annual WrestleMania event, he was forced to concede his championship to Yokozuna, a sumo-sized beast.
Right after Hart’s loss, Hogan beat Yokozuna “in less than 30 seconds,” snatching the title from him like it was the easiest thing on earth. He allegedly stormed into the ring to “defend” Hart, but all he really wanted was the title.
In the ‘80s, Hogan came out with his famous line, “To all my little Hulkamaniacs, say your prayers, take your vitamins, and you will never go wrong.” Funny enough, Hogan went wrong. He went really wrong with the so-called vitamins. In the early ‘90s, the infamous steroid scandal surfaced.
In 1991, the headline “Hulk: Bulk from a Bottle?” was published, and the whole thing blew up. But Hogan was desperate to keep his squeaky-clean image. The muscular darling claimed that the only thing he had taken was a synthetic hormone to help him heal from a shoulder injury. In other words, he lied.
Hogan stuck to his lie for a few years until, in 1994, he finally confessed. He revealed in court that he had been using steroids for 13 years in order to “get big.” Hogan took full responsibility for his actions and argued that Vince McMahon never pushed him to do it.
In exchange for his honest confession, he was given immunity for any crimes he admitted to being part of. And despite the court’s effort to squeeze out any dirty details about McMahon, the wrestler remained loyal and left the WWE owner out of it.
Hogan’s entrance song “Real American” portrays him as this down-to-earth civilian who’s ready to fight for the rights of humanity. In reality, though, he’s humming a very different tune. When Hogan’s daughter Brooke was dating a Black man, he stated:
“I’d rather if she was going to f*ck some n*gger, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall n*gger worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player!” So, as you can see, unless you’re tall, athletic, and rich, your skin color won’t sit so well with the Hulkster.
When the remarks came out, WWE immediately gave Hulk the boot. Even though he pleaded for forgiveness, insisting that “There’s not a racist bone in my body,” the guys over at WWE stuck with their decision. Hogan was out of the game. But not for long.
The WWE eventually took him back after releasing a statement explaining, “This second chance follows Hogan’s numerous public apologies and volunteering to work with young people, where he is helping them learn from his mistake.”
Having a wealthy celebrity as a father automatically thrusts you into the spotlight (whether you like it or not). All that attention and wealth turned the Hulkster’s son Nick into a “sort-of real-life Dennis the Menace” who didn’t know when to hit the brakes.
The speeding demon flew his car, often breaking 100 mph. Tickets didn’t bother him (because who cares about them when you can easily afford to pay?), and, tragically, his reckless driving left his good friend John Graziano in a terrible state. In 2007, 17-year-old and drunk, Nick crashed his car into a tree, leaving Graziano with severe brain damage. He received an eight-month jail sentence.
2007 was a horrible year for Hulk and his family. Their show Hogan Knows Best was canceled, Hulk’s marriage was at its end after he cheated on his wife, and his son was involved in a tragic car accident. “Everything got dark, everything happened at once,” he recalled.
The distraught wrestler tried to drink his worries away and wash down his pain with a few Xanax pills but to no avail. He even went so far as to place a gun in his mouth. “Obviously, I didn’t kill myself, but I came damn close,” he wrote in his memoir My Life Outside the Ring.
Although wrestling is considered scripted and fake, and some of the punches are just too embarrassing to watch, being a pro-wrestler has its risks. One main reason that the sport is so deadly is because of the frantic lifestyle and long-time steroid use. Another reason has to do with the actual injuries.
Throughout his career, Hogan has suffered from multiple injuries, including “a torn kneecap, spinal cord injury, an injured back, and a hip injury.” In 2009, the wrestler decided he had had enough and approached the Laser Spine Institute for help. But his laser surgeries left him “twisting like the Exorcist.” He ended up suing them, demanding $50 million in compensation.
Regardless of how hard he tries to secure his Florida beach store, Hulk Hogan isn’t always able to protect himself from sneaky thieves. In 2014, one woman broke into the shop and stole a $5,500 wrestling shoe. Lucky for her, the big bad wrestler wasn’t there to chase her away.
The insanely expensive shoe had Hogan’s signature on it, which might explain why the thief eventually gave it back. But not every robber showed the same change of heart. In 2007, $100,000 worth of jewelry was stolen from his home. Among the glossy gems were a diamond-encrusted watch and various gold chains.
Of all of Hogan’s nemeses, his wife has got to be the top one on the list. His real-life feud with ex-wife Linda Bollea was uglier than any other rivalry he paraded on TV. According to Linda, their arguments became so heated that they got to the point of physical altercation.
She claimed he grabbed her throat, threw furniture across the room, and ripped her clothes to pieces. What was the reason for all of that? It was the tension from their son’s horrific car crash, and the shameless affair he had with their daughter’s best friend.
Many of you might have heard this story before, but most of you probably erased it from your memory because of how disgusting it is. So, let’s recap. Hulk Hogan got a thumbs up from his buddy, Bubba “the Love Sponge,” to go wild in the sheets with his wife. So, with Bubba’s blessing, Hogan understandably went for it.
But what Hogan didn’t know was that Bubba was taping the whole thing. The footage then landed in the hands of Gawker, which started leaking parts of it. Humiliated and angry, the wrestler sued Gawker for $100 million. In response, the site argued that Hogan was a public figure which meant that it was totally fair to share bits of his life with the public. Hogan ultimately settled for $31 million.
Holgan’s case against Gawker is arguably one of the strangest lawsuits in the history of modern American media. It took so many wrong turns, ultimately opening a pandora box between tech-billionaire Peter Thiel and Gawker. Thiel reportedly funded Holgan’s lawyers as a way to get back at Gawker for outing him in 2007.
A few years before Holgan’s sex tape, Gawker posted an article titled “Peter Thiel is totally gay,” and to their defense, they argued that Peter had already come out to his close friends and family (a really lame justification). In any case, people believe that Thiel funded Holgan’s lawsuit against Gawker to get back at them.
In Rocky III, Hogan’s character played out a scene that happened in real life. Namely, the one where Stallone throws Thunderlips out of the ring. The scene is based on a match between Chuck Wepner and Andre the Giant in 1976 at the Shea Stadium in NYC.
In real-life, Andre the Giant beat up Wepner before he picked the poor guy up and tossed him over the ropes right out of the ring. This wasn’t the first time Stallone looked at Wepner for inspiration. His character Rocky is based on Wepner’s fight against Muhammad Ali.
Hulk Hogan was a big kid. At the young age of 12, while some boys looked like they’re still in second grade, Hogan was already six feet tall and weighed 195 pounds. No wonder he grew up to become a professional athlete (or maybe professional entertainer is the better term because, you know, WWE).
Hogan started his wrestling career at an impressive 6 foot 8, but after suffering serious injuries over the years and undergoing multiple surgeries, he’s lost about three inches of his height. He’s still a really beefy, tall guy. But there’s no denying that years of wrestling have taken their toll on him.
Hogan’s first match took place way back in 1977. He wrestled under the name “Super Destroyer” (so scary) and wore a somewhat frightening mask. Hogan’s stage name has gone through multiple changes over the years; it took him a while to find the right one.
He was called Terry Boulder (after his real name, Terry Eugene Bollea), Sterling Golden, and Hollywood Hogan. Finally, it was Vince McMahon Sr. who gave him his final name. He branded him “Hogan” because of his Irish descent, and the name “Hulk” stuck because of his huge size (the Incredible Hulk).
WrestleMania III’s poster shows Hulk Hogan’s determined face staring right back at Andre the Giant. It was the battle of the year and the match that everyone was looking forward to. The 1987 pay-per-view event had 12 matches, with Hulk and Andre’s as the main event.
Well into their fight, with both of them extremely exhausted, Hogan miraculously managed to pick up Andre and forcefully body slam him into the mat. He rose victoriously from the match and made his mark as a force to be reckoned with. Their fight is considered one of the biggest moments in wrestling history.
In a battle against The Iron Sheik in 1983, Hogan made history by becoming the first person to ever get out of the “camel clutch,” Sheik’s lethal finishing move. After successfully forcing his way out of it, he followed it with his trademark leg drop.
That’s how Hulk Hogan won his first ever WWF Championship title. His incredible victory made him one of the strongest wrestlers out there. He was no longer a masked “Super Destroyer.” He was now a worthy opponent who had earned the viewers’ respect.
Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Hulk Hogan became tight friends in the late ‘80s after they joined forces and became a successful tag team in the WWF. Along with their manager and Savage’s wife Miss Elizabeth, the trio, who went by the name “The Mega Powers,” dominated the ring and beat up some serious players over the years.
In 1989, The Mega Powers crumbled to pieces. They went from being one mega power to three estranged members who grew apart because of Savage’s inability to control his jealousy. The final straw happened after Hogan picked Elizabeth up on his shoulders and carried her to safety (she was badly injured). Savage didn’t appreciate Hogan’s friendly gesture, so he slapped him across the face.
With so much controversy surrounding Hogan, it was only a matter of time until a diss track would be released. In 2003, we all had a good laugh after Randy Savage rapped out the lines to his song titled, Be a Man, in which he bluntly dissed Hogan.
The lyrics go: “Be a man Hulk / come on don’t be scared / you’re running from Macho Man that’s what I heard.” Oooh…what a burn. Here’s another memorable line: “Hollywood Hulkster you’re at the end of your rope. And I’m a kick ya’ in the butt and wash your mouth out with soap.” Words to live by.
Hogan’s story with WWE’s Hall of Fame is a rocky one. Let’s start with his first induction. After winning a total of six heavyweight championships, he was gloriously enshrined in the Hall of Fame by his good friend, Sylvester Stallone.
But after his racist scandal, Hogan was fired from the WWE and ripped away from the Hall of Fame. His information, as well as his merchandise, were completely removed from their website. Incredibly, in one split second, the WWE erased the poor guy.
Three years after everyone was appalled by his racial slurs, the WWE opened their arms out to hug and welcome back their beloved wrestler. They believed he had apologized enough and decided to put his name back in the Hall of Fame.
Whether or not three years was enough to forgive the guy, we’re not so sure. Many fans were appalled by WWE’s decision, while other die-hard fans were relieved. In response, a grateful and emotional Hogan said he’d been “praying for this day.”
In 1996, Hollywood Hogan teamed up with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. The three of them had only one objective – to destroy Randy Savage during the Bash at the Beach event. For the first time ever, Hogan took on the villainous role in the ring.
His transition to the dark side startled wrestling fans everywhere, but they weren’t necessarily upset about it. The trio, which went by the name New World Order, became an instant phenomenon and was a thrill to watch in the ring!
Hogan is the only professional wrestler to ever grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. His flushed and angry face appeared in the 1985 issue, and to this day (36 years later), he’s still the only wrestler that has been featured on it.
In 2018, Hogan tweeted how honored he felt about the whole thing. He received numerous responses claiming that his claims were false because Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Ronda Rousey, as well as Danny Hodge had all appeared on SI too.
But Ronda landed the cover before she went into WWE (when she was an actual fighter in the MMA). The Rock was just a part-time pro wrestler when he bagged the cover, and Danny Hodge appeared during his wrestling days in college.
Not many know this, but the Hulkster was involved in the Japanese wrestling scene as well. He even won the first International Wrestling Grand Prix Heavyweight Championship in Japan after beating Antonio Inoki. The win helped elevate Hulk Hogan’s status and made him one of the most popular faces in Japan.
After a short reign, Hogan left the NJPW because his work in the WWF kept increasing. But in 1993, Hogan returned to Japan, this time as WWF champion, and battled it out against IWGP Heavyweight Champion The Great Muta. Incredibly, he came out victorious.
Say what you want about him (and we know that there are a lot of negative things to say), Hulk Hogan has still done plenty of good deeds throughout his life. His work with Make-A-Wish Foundation has helped over 200 kids with serious conditions.
He’s one of the few celebs to have granted over 200 wishes. Kudos to him. It’s worth noting though, that when it comes to wish granting in the WWE arena, John Cena is definitely at the top, with over 500 visits to Make-A-Wish kids!
Before the Kardashians, before Chrisley Knows Best, and Alaskan Bush People, another wild family dominated the screens. Hogan and his family paraded their radical life on TV for four seasons. Brooke, his daughter, drew most of the attention and even earned her own spin-off titled Brooke Knows Best.
After Nick’s fatal car crash and the whole affair scandal, which led to the ugly divorce, the network canceled the show. Despite trying to keep some of the family on-air (Brooke), Brooke Knows Best was canceled after two short seasons.
Hogan has done so many projects over the years that he has accumulated a fortune. According to “Wealthygorilla” the Hulkster’s net worth is roughly $25 million, making him one of the richest wrestlers out there.
But he’s not as wealthy as John Cena or Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson. In case you were wondering, Cena is worth a whopping $60 million, and The Rock is worth a WHOPPING $320 million. Johnson is probably the richest of all wrestlers, but to be fair, he’s associated more with acting nowadays.
In Wrestlemania X8 (the 18th event), Hulk Hogan went against Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. WWE assumed that the crowd would cheer on The Rock, but, incredibly, they hoorayed Hogan. “I give The Rock one big push, and the place explodes,” Hogan recalled.
“[WWE] thought I was gonna get booed,” he continued, “Then I start chopping meat on him, and with every hit the place is going crazy. Then I did what was planned, blocking a punch, and as soon as he started hitting me came the boos.”
Hogan tried to do a good deed by giving the Wild Samoans (fellow wrestlers) a lift one night in New Jersey. But it ended up in an unfortunate arrest. The story goes like this: Hogan and the Wild Samoans cruised around New Jersey when a state trooper suddenly pulled them over.
As he went to grab his papers from the glove box, a gun fell out. In New Jersey, an unregistered gun means a one-year prison sentence. Hogan begged the Samoans to tell the cop that he had no idea about this law, but they remained loyal to their onstage characters (who don’t speak English) and remained silent in front of the police officer.
Hogan has done a lot in his prolific career. Among other accomplishments (like owning a shop and hosting his own TV show), he has also published two books: Hollywood Hulk Hogan in 2002 and My Life Outside the Ring in 2009.
In addition, he took part in the NBC remake of American Gladiators alongside Muhammad Ali’s daughter Laila. Although the show didn’t last for too long, Hogan credits Ali with turning his life around for the better. When she called Hogan to discuss the show, he was in a very dark period, and her call basically saved him.
As you can easily tell by his impressive career, Hogan has always been dedicated to perfecting his work in the ring. Hogan was so dedicated when he started out that he didn’t mind when his leg was broken intentionally during his training.
When Hulk Hogan was training with the legendary Hiro Matsuda, he was told he had to “exercise until he was going to faint.” In other words, they were going to break his leg so he could come face to face with pure, stomach-twisting pain.
There’s no denying that Hulk Hogan is a catchy stage name. But not everyone was so happy about it. Can you guess who had a problem with it? The guys over at Marvel. They weren’t too happy that the wrestler snatched their trademark name.
McMahon Sr. eventually shushed them down by paying them royalties for 20 years. Marvel Comics would receive $100 for every match that Hogan appeared in until, finally, in 2005, Hogan purchased the rights to the name.
During Hulk Hogan’s aspiring musician days, he tried out for Metallica. “When I heard they were looking for a bass player, I got my tapes together from the old band, got a couple of tapes together that Simon Cowell produced with me,” he told KERRANG!
Sadly, he never heard a word from them. Interestingly, Metallica’s members Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield argued that they have never heard him play and have no idea what he’s talking about. Both of them responded with, “Hogan who?”
Can you imagine Hulk Hogan playing with One Direction? Too good to be true, seriously. Surprisingly, it almost happened. Hogan told Vice that NBC wanted him to interview them AND play a song with them. Hogan’s response wasn’t too friendly.
He told them, “Here’s the deal, I’ll interview them. If you want me to bring them on stage, I will, and if there’s a song that has a standard chord progression (because I don’t know any of their music) that I could hear really quick, it’d be fun.” They never ended up playing together.
Just as it’s impossible to imagine Hulk Hogan play with One Direction, it’s also pretty difficult to picture him working a normal job. But according to his interview with Complex, the legendary wrestler once worked as a bank teller.
He didn’t last long as an ordinary 9 to 5 guy. And when we say that he didn’t last long, we basically mean that he didn’t last at all. He worked at it for two days before realizing that it wasn’t for him. At least he tried to be an ordinary working fellow like the rest of us.
Apart from music, Hogan’s second love growing up was baseball. He played throughout high school and even considered going professional. He told Complex that he was scouted as a pitcher by the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds.
But a fatal injury to his elbow during his senior year of high school put an end to his pitching career. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Hulk told the MLB. “Once my arm wasn’t what it was, I started chasing the wrestling dream around, and it finally happened. But baseball was the first love.”
The Hulkster looks like he’s not afraid of anything. Whenever he’s in the ring, he flexes his macho wrestler stance and lets out a roar. But, apparently, if you take Hogan out of the ring and into the sky, you’ll find that he’s just an ordinary guy who’s afraid of flying.
Hogan has survived two plane crashes in his life, and in both of them, he was wearing red underwear. As a result, he’s reached the conclusion that his underwear have saved his life. So, in order to prepare himself for any future crash, he makes sure to put on his lucky pair whenever he boards a plane.
After finding out about “Mean” Gene’s death, Hogan said he struggled to breathe. He told People, “It felt like my Adam’s apple went backward or something, I couldn’t catch my breath. I guess my wife thought I was having a heart attack.”
“It hit me so hard cause I just talked to him a couple weeks before about getting together the weekend when I came back from New Year’s,” he added. In 2006, Hogan inducted Okerlund into the WWE’s Hall of Fame. He later tweeted, “Mean Gene, I love you, my brother.”
Hulk Hogan and Cyndi Lauper are both mega stars, but that’s probably the only thing they have in common. Because other than that, Lauper, like all girls, just wants to have fun, and Hogan prefers to wrestle and battle it out. But for those of you who don’t know, this unlikely pair teamed up in the ‘80s.
Hogan served as Lauper’s “bodyguard” during the “Rock & Wrestling Connection” events in the 1980s. Popstar Lauper helped enhance Hogan’s reputation as a cultural icon. In 1985, the wrestler accompanied her to the Grammys, where she won an award for Best New Artist.
As of 2021, Hogan is 67 years old. He was born on August 11th, 1953, in the city of Augusta, Georgia, to an Italian dad and a mom of Scottish, French and Panamanian descent. That’s a pretty neat combination.
Despite being born in Georgia, he moved to Port Tampa, Florida at the age of one and spent all his childhood in the Sunny State. He attended Hillsborough Community College and the University of South Florida but ended up dropping out to become the incredible Hulkster he is today.