Andre a Giant Among Men

The Age – June 22, 1978
By Stephen Phillips

Andre the giant, the biggest man in the grunt and groan business of professional wrestling, bills himself as the eighth wonder of the world.

And standing in the monstrous shadow cast by his vast 231.3 kg (36 stone), 2.26 m (7 ft. 5 in.) frame, you are quick to agree.

He is 32, big, mean, rich and your typical food-loving Frenchman.

He can speak English but prefers to communicate through his manager Frank Valois or else fend off unwanted queries with one flick of his outsized hands.

What does a giant eat?  Does he have much trouble buying clothes?  How does he squeeze himself into those tight seats in jets to keep up with his equally tight international schedule?

“Uh!” he groaned in reply to the first question and the hand indicated that Mr. Valois would be taking command.

“Oh, Andre eats all the food he can get, after all he is the biggest athlete in the world,” Mr. Valois said.

World Championship Wrestling compere and former VFL great Ted Whitten elaborated.

I had breakfast with him at Sydney airport one morning.  Like a fool I offered to shout.  He ordered eight eggs, 12 sausages, lambs fry and bacon, fruit, two large pots of coffee and a dozen slices of toast,” Whitten said.

On Saturday night he makes his farewell Australian appearance at Festival Hall against Brute Bernard and another international baddie, J. J. Dillon.

On Sunday he will tuck himself into two first class seats on a Jumbo bound for New York.

Andre is the biggest attraction in world wrestling in more ways than one.  He makes $300,000 a year, owns restaurants in Montreal and his native France and sports a $10,000 watch surrounded by 59 diamonds.

How long will you continue wrestling, I asked.  “Uh!”  Another wave of the hand and Mr. Valois chipped in: “Oh, maybe 10 more years.”

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