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Hulk Hogan was one of the most beloved figures in the World Wrestling Federation in the 1980s, known for his flamboyance and the frenzy of his fans—Hulkamania.
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Born Terry Gene Bollea, on August 11, 1953, in Augusta, Georgia, Hulk Hogan was discovered in 1979 by World Wrestling Federation owner Vince McMahon and had his debut match against Andre the Giant, which he won. Hulkamania spread from there. Reinventing himself as Hollywood Hogan in 1996, he made a comeback and starred in his own TV show with his family, Hogan Knows Best, from 2005 to 2009.
Wrestler, actor. Born Terry Gene Bollea, on August 11, 1953, in Augusta, Georgia. Bollea is the youngest son of Pete Bollea, a construction foreman, and Ruth Bollea, a homemaker and dance instructor.
Bollea acquired an interest for wrestling in high school. He went on to study at Hillsborough Community College and the University of South Florida. In spite of his education, his interests remained in the ring and he never received his degree. Instead, he chose to devote his time to working out in a local gym owned by wrestlers Jack and Jerry Brisco. Encouraged by these two brothers, Bollea spent a few months wrestling on small circuits in the Southeast.
In 1979, Bollea's talent caught the attention of Vincent McMahon Sr., the legendary promoter and owner of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), the most prominent wrestling league in the Northeast. McMahon gave Bollea an opportunity to join the WWF—and to create a new identity. Because of his massive physique (he stood 6 feet 8 inches, and weighed 303 pounds) and his uncanny resemblance to the comic book hero, the Incredible Hulk, McMahon suggested that Terry assume the stage name "Hulk Hogan."
In 1980, Hogan had his debut bout against the fierce Andre the Giant. Hogan won the match, along with the respect and support of wrestling fans throughout the country. Actor Sylvester Stallone was so impressed by Hogan's performance that he cast him as "Thunderlips the Ultimate Male" in his 1982 movie, Rocky III.
In 1984, Hogan was awarded the WWF championship belt for his memorable defeat of the Iron Sheik. Hogan rose to super-stardom. The resulting fan frenzy became legendary, and earned the nickname "Hulkamania." Hogan would hold his title for three more years, and his success during this time bolstered the public's fascination with professional wrestling.
By 1985, Hogan had acquired tremendous popularity among Americans. His image was marketed to sell a multitude of products, and he began to take on leading roles in a number of films. In 1989, Hogan starred in the wrestling movie No Holds Barred. This film experienced moderate success, but was followed by several low performing movie projects, including Mr. Nanny (1993) and Santa with Muscles (1996).
The success Hogan enjoyed in the 1980s waned in the early 90s. Accused of providing anabolic steroids to its wrestlers, the WWF underwent a turbulent trial in which Hogan was called to testify against his former boss, Vince McMahon Jr. Hogan's admission of drug abuse forced him to terminate both his wrestling and film careers.
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