A man of many talents, Hulk Hogan has certainly had his share of fame and infamy over the years. From his peak of stardom in the 80’s to his comeback now at the ripe, young age of 67, his career has been nothing short of extraordinary. Who would have imagined that the long haired, bass player from Florida would become a global name?
Pro-wrestler, actor and all-round businessman, Hogan has amassed a tidy fortune from all his dealings over his 6 decades in show business. And just when it looked like he would enjoy his deserved retirement, the Hulk is back.
Born Terry Eugene Bollea in Georgia, his family moved to Florida before his 2nd birthday. As a schoolboy, Bollea was an accomplished Little League pitcher, even attracting some scouts from the New York Yankees, before an injury halted his baseball career.
An accomplished sportsman, he always had a love for the limelight and eventually dropped out of the University of South Florida to become a full-time bass player for local band, Ruckus. When not playing, he was a keen weightlifter and attended a local gym patronized by many pro-wrestlers. He gained the attention from some who introduced him to trainer Hiro Matsudo and in 1977, Hogan made his wrestling debut as masked fighter, The Super Destroyer.
Wrestling in Memphis, Hogan made a brief appearance on a local talk show alongside Lou Ferrigno, The Incredible Hulk. Comments were made that Hogan was actually bigger than the Hulk himself and the nickname started to stick.
The early 80’s saw Hogan in Japan with New-Japan Pro Wrestling before Vince McMahon wanted to push the WWF into international stardom and had Hogan in his sights. From Irish decent, McMahon gave Bollea the name Hogan to continue the Irish theme and an acting role in Rocky III propelled him into the limelight.
As his stardom grew, attention came from Marvel Comics about his likeness to their character, The Incredible Hulk. A merchandising agreement was made and Hogan was no longer to wear any green, thus the birth of his famous yellow began. Marvel actually obtained the trademark rights to “Hulk Hogan”, “Hulkamania” and “Hulkster” for the coming 20 years in the deal. Hogan perfected his character, keeping the famous shirt ripping from The Incredible Hulk and adding his finishing move, complete with a second wind acquired from the energy of his Hulkamaniacs.
The Big Time
As the WWF sought for pop culture stardom and MTV influences, Hulk Hogan became the face of the business as the favorite wrestler around. After holding the title of WWF World Heavyweight Champion for a record 1,476 days, he was finally defeated by Andre the Giant in the infamous The Main Event. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBase sought help from the referee’s twin brother to step in and rig the match. After being proclaimed the winner, Andre handed the belt over to DiBiase as part of the arrangement.
The loss only increased Hogan’s stardom and over the coming years, he became the single most famous wrestler of his generation, if not all time. The WWF had succeeded in becoming one of televisions most watched shows and Hogan was their star.
Hogan was the most requested celebrity of the 80’s for the Make a Wish Foundation, graced the cover of numerous international magazines including People and TV Guide. He was also the only wrestler in history to ever make the cover of esteemed Sports Illustrated. Regular late-night appearances, his own cartoon and a guest host spot on Saturday Night Live saw him at his peak.
The Beginning of the End
Following his highs with WWF and a stint with World Championship Wrestling, Hogan upset his fanbase with an attack on longtime friend and tag team partner, Randy Savage at Bash at the Beach in 1996. After the controversy, Hogan announced that not only were the WWF not appreciating his talent but that he was forming a rival, the New World Order.
Renaming himself “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, he changed his legendary clothing to black and white and grew a beard to accompany his trademark moustache. Over the coming years, Hogan swapped back and forth between rival wrestling organizations but never regained the height of his fame of the 80’s.
A documentary into steroids and wrestling saw him take a leave of absence from the sport for a while and whilst he still managed successful world tours right up until late 2015, a scandal involving a leaked sex tape and racial slurs saw him dropped by the WWE.
Toy company Martel stopped producing his action figure and his merchandise was removed from many big-name stores. Although he was defended by many black wrestlers, his name was tarnished and his retirement followed.
Business Ventures, Wealth and a Comeback
Wrestling apart, Hogan has used his fame to star in many films over the years since Rocky III. Starring roles in Santa with Muscles, Suburban Commando and Mr Nanny were 3 of 16 film roles he procured in the 80’s and 90’s. He also has many television appearances in shows like Baywatch, The A-Team, Walker, Texas Ranger and American Dad. His 2005 reality show, Hogan Knows Best, was the highest rated regular telecast VH1 ever had.
His trademarked name has been used in video games nearly every year since 1987, he has 171 different action figures produced in his likeness and had his own energy drink, Hogan Energy. There is even a slot machine developed with a Hulk Hogan theme, play it by choosing from this up to date list of casinos.
He opened his own restaurant called Pastamania in 1995 and although it didn’t make the rounds, being the face of wrestling for some many years has certainly bought him the income.
Unfortunately, his 2009 divorce to wife of 23 years, Linda, saw him lose the majority of his wealth and control of his companies. He has also been quoted as saying his lavish lifestyle over the years cost him hundreds of millions of dollars.
Currently, 2021 has seen him make a comeback to wrestling and whilst he has claimed he has “one fight left in him”, for now it’s just appearances and hosting. At 67, Hulk Hogan may not be the richest wrestler around (as John Cena and Dwayne Johnson battle for that title), but he still lays claim to being the most famous. Would we love to see him enter the ring one last time? I’m sure everyone, except his doctor, would love it!