Since the 80s, Hulk Hogan, his bandana, and Fu Manchu mustache have captivated fans with his larger than life personality and persona even amidst controversy. These are the secrets behind the greatest professional wrestler of all time.
His First Job Was In A Bank
Hulk Hogan’s first job seems like an odd fit for such a physical specimen. Way before his wrestling career took off, Hogan started a job as a bank teller. The gig would not last long as he quit after only two days.
Professional wrestlers spend a ton of time on the road traveling from city to city. The Hulkster has a strange superstition which he follows for every flight. He wears the same pair of red underwear on every flight. Miraculously, he has survived two plane crashes in his life and both times was wearing his red underwear. He believes that they are lucky and keep him safe on his travels. Hogan won’t board a plane without them on.
He Considered A Presidential Run
The 2000 Presidential Election is one of the most controversial in American history and could have had more. In 1999, Hulk told Larry King, ““It’s something that’s not out of the question… it would be nice to have somebody that could put America first. The way I look at it, if Jesse Ventura could become governor of Minnesota, I mean I basically beat Jesse at everything he’s done anyway in his life, so I might as well run for the president.”
Peter Thiel Funded His Legal Team
Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Media received tremendous media attention and cost a fortune to undertake. The Hulkster, fortunately, had an angel in his pocket footing his legal bills. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel reportedly was secretly covering his expenses in an effort to hit Gawker Media hard. Thiel’s legal team claimed that his interest was financial and motivated by an interest to protect privacy rights. Rumors spread that Thiel was angry at Gawker for trying to out him as gay years earlier.
His Name Is Not Hulk
It might be possible to believe that his real name and stage name are one in the same, but he was not born “Hulk Hogan.” Terry Gene Bollea was born in Augusta, Georgia on August 11, 1953. His parents were a construction foreman and a dance teacher. The Bolleas moved to Tampa when Terry was young, the city Terry would first be introduced to professional wrestling. Hulk Hogan would not be born for another 26 years.
The Beginning Of Entrance Music
It is commonplace these days for wrestlers and boxers to enter the ring to huge fanfare with personalized entrance music. Hulk Hogan is widely credited for starting this entrance music trend after coming in to Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor for a match. Later in his career, he would use recognizable songs like Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child (Slight Return) and Rick Derringer’s Real American to energize the crowd and signify his appearance.
The Dropout Rocker
Before he became Hulk Hogan, Terry was a student at the University of South Florida (and Hillsborough Community College before that). He was on track for a degree in Business Management, but at age 20 he decided to follow his dream. No, it was not to be a wrestler, but a professional musician. He dropped out of school to play bass in a band called Ruckus. Ruckus played at bars frequented by many professional wrestlers, giving Terry his introduction to that world.
Major League Baseball Dreams
The Hulk’s first athletic calling had nothing to do with slamming bodies on a canvas. He claims to have been a stud baseball player in high school. As a slow and chubby teenager, Terry played third base and pitched. He complimented a 90 mile per hour fastball with out-of-the-park power and was scouted by the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds. That dream would die after he broke his arm making a play on a grounder to third base.
Brooke Hogan Has A Top 40 Hit
Hulk Hogan’s beautiful daughter Brooke really raised her profile thanks to the reality show Hogan Knows Best tracking their family’s day to day life. Before the show, she had toured with the Backstreet Boys and Hillary Duff, but her album was never released. She changed labels in 2006 and had her first single premiered on the show. About Us peaked at 33 on the Billboard Hot 100. After the show had been cancelled, she starred in her own show, sometimes dealing with her music career.
A Test Of Commitment
While he was making the rounds at local bars with his band, Hogan got the attention of Matsuda due to his insane physical stature. Matsuda was considering training him full time. Since he was a wrestling fan as a child, he thought it might be worth a shot. Matsuda was known for really pushing his trainees, and on day one of training Matsuda broke Hulk’s leg intentionally. Once it healed, he returned to Matsuda, impressing his new teacher with his guts.
A World Class Mustache
If you take one look at Hulk Hogan, his incredibly geometric and blonde mustache is unforgettable. The Hulk Fu Manchu is such a legend in itself that it was inducted into the International Mustache Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 2015. The hall is in Pittsburgh, but for now resides solely online. The Hulkster was joined by a handful of the world’s most famous mustaches including Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, and Yosemite Sam.
He Was Up For Mr. Freeze
Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin is universally panned as one of the worst films of the past twenty-five years. For the role of Mr. Freeze, Schumacher knew he needed someone strong to move around in the 75-pound suit. Arnold Schwartzenegger will go down infamously as the pun spewing villain, but Hulk Hogan was on his short list if the Governator turned it down. That’s one career blemish Hogan did not need.
The Last Champion Of WWF
At the beginning of the new millennium, WWF got caught in a name battle with the World Wildlife Foundation. The WWF had entered an agreement in 1994 to limit the amount that it referenced “WWF” in in its broadcasts. The World Wildlife Foundation sued the WWF, forcing it to change its name to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Right before the name change, Hulk beat Triple H for the Heavyweight title, making him the last WWF Heavyweight champion ever.
Keeping The Boss Out Of Prison
1994 was a big year for professional wrestling. Vince McMahon found himself in the middle of a steroid scandal and a government investigation. McMahon was charged with providing his wrestlers with steroids. Hulk testified that he had used steroids for 14 years but stopped after he joined the WCW in 1994. He then testified that McMahon never ordered him to take steroids nor saw him order others to take them. The boss escaped without seeing any prison time.
Sports Illustrated Cover Boy
Since 1954, Sports Illustrated has been the premier weekly sports magazine. 23 million people per week flip through its pages looking for features, photos, and columns on their favorite sports figures. In the history of the magazine, Hulk Hogan is the only professional wrestler to appear on its famous cover. Say what you will about the merits of professional wrestling, but it is sad that a single President (Reagan) appeared on the cover more times (2) than the entire sport combined.
His First Ring Name
Terry Bollea did not always go by Hulk Hogan in the ring. It takes some time to settle on a name that sticks with the fans. His first attempt at a name was the generic Super Destroyer. The character was always hooded and had been played by other actors/wrestlers in the past and would do so after him as well. He eventually teamed with Brutus Beefcake with whom together were known as the Boulder Brothers.
The Name Becomes His Name
After bouncing between professional leagues, Terry found his way into the Continental Wrestling Association. While appearing on a local talk show, he met Lou Ferrigno, the actor known for The Incredible Hulk. Bollea soared over the six foot four Ferrigno, and the show host mentioned it during the broadcast. He began going by Terry “The Hulk” Boulder. Eventually, Vince McMahon wanted him to change his last name to sound more Irish, so he added Hogan.
Difficulty Separating Hulk From Terry
Terry Bollea’s public persona has taken over his life. Even though he has spoken in interviews about separating Terry from Hulk, he seems to have trouble doing so. On Hogan Knows Best, Terry would frequently refer to himself as Hulk. His family members also used the last name Hogan while filming the show, not their legal name Bollea. To fans, he will always be Hulk Hogan even without a presence in the ring.
Make-A-Wish For The Hulkster
The Hulk’s popularity has been undeniable for decades, and it reflects with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Since the start of the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 1980, Hulk Hogan has been one of the most frequently wished celebrities. He is one of only six celebrities to receive over 200 wishes along with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael Jordan, Jeff Gordon, John Cena, and Justin Bieber. Cena recently eclipsed Hogan to receive the highest amount of wishes ever with 460.
Keeping The Boss Close
Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon’s relationship goes back to the boom of professional wrestling and its coming out party at WrestleMania. Apparently, the two could not get enough of each other, bringing their working relationship home and down the block. They lived as neighbors in Stamford, Connecticut for some time not far from the WWE headquarters. Hogan claims they lived next door and that he taught McMahon about the wrestling business as they lifted weights.
His Former Friend, Jesse Ventura
As two of the marquee wrestlers in the 70s and 80s, Hulk Hogan became close friends with Jesse “The Body” Ventura. In the early 90s, Ventura began making moves to protect the present and the future of professional wrestlers. As he was working to unionize the wrestlers, Hogan informed McMahon of Ventura’s plans. Ventura believes he can never repair his relationship with Hulk because he cannot trust him stating, “I’m never friends with anyone I don’t trust.”
Bob Backlund Refused To Let Him Win
Vince McMahon was looking to make a splash after he bought WWF from his father. At the time, Bob Backlund was the champion, but fans began turning on him. McMahon planned to have Backlund lose the title to Hogan after turning heel, but Backlund refused to lose the title to someone without a “legitimate wrestling background.” Instead, he had Backlund lose to the Iron Shiek, a former Olympic coach. Backlund didn’t get a rematch and Hulk beat the Iron Shiek.
Randy Savage Wrote A Hulk Diss Track
Macho Man Randy Savage was a fantastic wrestler and apparently thought that would translate into a music career. In 2003, Savage released a rap song called “Be A Man” in which he angrily grills Hulk Hogan. The beat is catchy, but the lyrics are disastrously corny. For instance, “Dude, please, your pay-per-view was a joke/ You’re avoiding Randy Savage because you know you’ll get smoked.” This is one of those moments where “stick to sports” is appropriate.
Muscle Car Lover
Muscle cars and wrestlers have become synonymous over the years. Hulk Hogan boasts a nice collection of cars himself. One of his favorites is a 1994 Dodge Viper covered in red paint with yellow and black highlights and the Hulkamania logo. The rest of his cars follow the same color scheme too. He also has a yellow Dodge Charger, and a yellow and red Chevy Camaro. His favorite is a red 1968 Dodge Challenger.
His Son Made Negative Headlines
Hogan Knows Best fans became familiar with Hulk’s son Nick over its four seasons. Nick was sprung into the spotlight for the show and since has managed to keep his name in the news only for negative reasons. In 2007, Nick, coming off four speeding tickets in under a year, crashed his car into the median and caused the passenger to need 24 care for the rest of his life from his injuries. He received eight months in jail plus probation.
A Reporter Told Him About His Divorce
Audiences watched Hulk’s marriage to Linda Hogan dissolve before their eyes on Hogan Knows Best. While it might have been evident to audiences that their marriage was heading that way, Hulk was caught off guard when he found out. When told by a reporter that court records showed the paperwork was filed, Hogan responded, “Thank you for the great information…Wow, you just knocked the bottom out of me.” Apparently, Hogan does not know best.
The Current Mrs. Hogan
After Hulk and Linda officially split, Hogan brought a new blonde into his life. He began dating Jennifer McDaniel in 2008, and the two wed in 2010 at a small ceremony by Clearwater, Florida. The wedding was not without controversy as one of Hogan’s bodyguards got into a brawl with a snooping paparazzo. McDaniel is 21 years younger than him and 15 years younger than Linda. McDaniel looks eerily similar to Hogan’s daughter, Brooke, from his first marriage.
Dirty Secret Comes Out
In 2012, the Hulkster was dragged through the mud by another public scandal. A video went viral of Hulk having relations with a woman named Heather Clem. Clem was the wife of Hulk’s best man, Bubba the Love Sponge. In a strange turn, Bubba holds no hard feelings towards his friend and even set the encounter up. Hulk was understandably upset about the release of the film and how it hurt his reputation once again.
Brad Garrett Voiced A Cartoon Hulk
Did you know Hulk Hogan has a connection to Everybody Loves Raymond? Brad Garrett, who plays Ray’s brother Robert, voiced an animated Hulk Hogan on a short lived TV show called Rock ‘n’ Wrestling. It featured Hulk leading a group of good guys against bad guys such as Roddy Piper. James Avery of Uncle Phil fame from Fresh Prince of Bel Air lent his voice for the Junkyard Dog. It only lasted six episodes.
Hulk Is Shrinking
When he began his wrestling career, Hulk Hogan stood six foot seven inches. After 40 years of punishment, his body started to shrink. He is now listed at six foot four. Nine back surgeries, two hip replacements, and two knee replacements have brought him back down to earth, literally. For a frame of reference, Hulk would no longer look down on Lou Ferrigno, his namesake, as he did when they first met. Instead he would meet him eye to eye.
One of Hulk’s earliest wrestling friendships began with Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake. During his divorce with Linda, Hulk frequently had to deflect threats and claims from her. One claim, in particular, got on his nerves. Linda claimed that Hulk and Beefcake had relationships of their own outside the wrestling ring. Beefcake, real name Ed Leslie, and Hogan filed separate defamation lawsuits against her for the claim. Hopefully, their friendship is strong enough to survive empty claims, which they both have denied.
Metallica’s Missing Band Member
Before he became a wrestler, Hulk wanted to be a rock musician. When that dream died, and he started training, he never truly let the idea go. In 2003, Metallica was searching for a new bassist. Hogan submitted audition tapes to the band in hopes of gaining at least a tryout. The tapes include a cover of Gary Glitter’s Leader of the Gang. Unfortunately for Hulk, James Hetfield and the gang never responded to him.
The Gawker Trial
Hulk Hogan sued Gawker media in 2012 for defamation and loss of privacy after a tape of him surfaced with his best friend’s wife. He had not consented to be video taped, and Gawker Media released a video clip without his permission. In 2014, it became the first celebrity case of its kind to go to trial. In the past, similar issues were sorted out outside of court. He was awarded a $140 million judgment, eventually settling on $31 million.
Rocky Got Him Fired
In 1982, professional wrestlers entered the world of Rocky Balboa. Rocky III brought Mr. T in as the villainous Clubber Lang, and Hulk Hogan in as Thunderlips. Vince McMahon was not pleased with Hogan’s new career choice and fired him from the company. In the film, Thunderlips is supposed to be seven feet tall, even though Hogan is more than a few inches shorter. Stallone claims Hogan hit him harder than any of his other opponents in the series.
Laila Ali Saved His Life
Following his divorce, Hulk Hogan was in a bad spot. With Linda damaging his reputation in the press and his son in prison, Hulk had hit rock bottom. A well timed called from Laila Ali saved his life. He claims that he was inebriated and holding a gun to his head when Ali’s phone call interrupted him and she convinced him to put the weapon. He would rebound and put his life back together.
A Big Kid
Professional wrestlers need size to compete and endure the physical punishment. Terry seemed poised to be an athlete due to his enormous size. By age 12, Terry was six feet fall and weighed 195 pounds. By his senior year, he was six foot seven inches and near 300 pounds. His diet consisted of 10 eggs, a three quarter pound burger and a quart of orange juice – and that was only for breakfast. He clearly received enough daily protein.
He Could Have Had His Name On The “Foreman” Grill
The lean, mean, grilling machine has sold over 100 million units with boxer George Foreman’s name on it. Before Foreman capitalized on the grill, it was offered to Hulk Hogan. Hogan’s agent proposed two options for kitchen appliance endorsements and Hogan chose to go with the “Hulkamania Meatball Maker.” The rest is history as Foreman still collects 40% of the grill’s profits. He could have used that money after his divorce.
Sued By A Law and Order Star
Before he became a star on Law and Order: SVU, Richard Belzer was a comedian and host of talk show Hot Properties. To promote the first WrestleMania, Belzer brought Mr. T and Hulk Hogan on to the show. He tried to nudge Hulk into performing a move on him. Finally, Hulk gave in and put him in a chin lock, knocking Belzer out. He sued Hulk for $5 million for the incident, and the two settled out of court.
Divorce Brought Him Near Bankruptcy
Throughout his long career in entertainment, Hulk Hogan amassed a net worth around $40 million. In 2007, his wife Linda filed for divorce after 25 years of marriage citing his infidelities as the cause. Linda received 70% of their assets which totaled $30 million in cash, real estate, and cars. In a 2011 interview, Hogan claimed that the divorce settlement brought him near bankruptcy. He began working again for WWE in 2014 to help with his cash flow problems.
Fired From The WWE
The Hulk returned to professional wrestling to help him with his finances after his divorce. His long and storied career would not end on a bright note, however. Following the release of his explicit tape, the full audio recording caught Hulk in the middle of a racist tirade against a gentleman suitor for his daughter. The press labeled him a racist, and the WWE terminated its contract with him. They have removed him from promotions and their website.