People – January 9, 1978
By Dennis Breo
Billy and Benny McGuire are touring Japan this month, which makes them quite happy. Says Billy, “The Japanese think big men are descended from the gods and they treat us with the utmost respect.” Billy-san and Benny-san do, after all, weigh about 700 pounds. Each.
Listed as the “world’s heaviest twins” in the Guinness Book of World Records, the McGuires, 31, have marketed their staggering bulk as pro wrestlers for the last 10 years. “Let’s face it,” explains Billy, “we’re making the best of a bad situation.”
Touring the Southern circuit, the twins draw crowds of 20,000 in larger towns. They are popular in part because they are undefeated—by pro wrestling’s gentle standards anyway. But a lot of spectators come out just to see how “big” the twins really are. (The prudent do not say “fat” when the 5’11” McGuires are close enough to use their favorite wrestling moves, such as the “splash,” which involves jumping on a prostrate opponent, or the “steamroller,” a splash followed by a maneuver best likened to a rolling pin flattening dough.)
At birth, the twins were a classic of deceptive packaging, arriving prematurely at five pounds each. Their mother, who weighed 300 then, is a svelte 120 now. Their dad, a trucker, is six feet and weighs 220. At age 10 German measles upset the twins’ pituitary glands, they say, and they ballooned to 200 pounds. By high school they were up to 450, and while they insist that in recent years they have eaten only normal-size meals, their weights stabilized only recently at, for publicity purposes, 747 (Billy) and 727.
Though the twins’ health is “as good as can be expected,” doctors tell them that in five years or so their bodies will no longer be able to carry such weight. As a result, they have begun to talk about either a gastric or intestinal bypass. Every step of such an operation, however, would be difficult and hazardous, from anesthesia to suturing. “An appendectomy would kill us,” Billy says. “There’s no way to get at it.”
Meanwhile, because they can only stand for 10 minutes without losing their breath, they work fast in the ring. “I might start out for a minute or two,” explains Billy. “When I get tired, Benny takes my place.” Although “small guys”—i.e., 300-pounders—give the twins trouble because they are quicker, the greatest threat comes from unruly crowds. In one match in Louisville, an opponent was shot and died in Billy’s arms. In Horse Ranch, Ky., fans tossed a sackful of rattlesnakes into the twins’ dressing room. Benny escaped through the door; not the doorway, the door.
Out of the ring, their lives are complicated but almost normal. Both McGuires are married. Billy’s wife of eight years, Danielle, weighs 98 pounds, while Benny’s second wife, Tammy, a wrestler, is 135. (Benny’s first marriage, to Danielle’s sister, ended in divorce.) “We’ve always had a way with the ladies,” boasts Benny. “We’ve scored. Lots of girls are curious about us.” These days, however, they say they’re no longer interested in groupies, or “ring rats” to the trade.
The twins drive custom-built Chevies with no back seats and extended brake and gas pedals since their feet can’t touch the floor. Their sofas and beds are reinforced with cinder blocks, which they carry with them on road trips. In restaurants they take two chairs apiece and buy two first-class seats on airplanes (where they eat carefully because they cannot fit into the small toilets). Clothes are specially tailored for their 84-inch waists and 90-inch chests, of course. Identical otherwise in looks and dress, they can be distinguished by their size 14EE footwear: cowboy boots for Billy (“I like John Wayne and Gene Autry”), loafers for Benny (Police Woman and CHiPs). Their natural buoyancy makes swimming a particularly relaxing sport. “We can’t drown,” asserts Benny. “We pop right up like a cork.”
While they seem to have adjusted to their mammoth proportions, Billy says, with feeling, “I’d trade it all in a second if I could be 150 pounds.” But in answering mail from fat men who envy the twins’ lives, they waste no pity. “Some of these guys,” Billy says, “can’t even go to the bathroom themselves. They never had a job or a date. We tell them to quit feeling sorry for themselves—to get off their cans and start moving.”