Blog Archives

Brown, Box – Andre the Giant



Andre the Giant

There are two main groups of people who know about Andre the Giant: the ones who knew him from wrestling, and the ones who knew him from The Princess Bride. There’s some overlap, granted, but if you’ve heard of him today, it’s probably through one of those things. If you somehow don’t know him, or only know him through images, the man lived quite a life, and Box Brown does a hell of a job telling that story. The basics of Andre is that, at his largest point, he was 7’4″ and over 500 pounds. His disease led to him eventually shrinking as he had to hunch to keep up with various body parts and joints failing, but there’s no getting around the fact that he was a giant man. Full disclosure here: I was a wrestling fan back in the Wrestlemania III days, and recently uncovered an old program book of mine from Wrestlemania IV (I went to see it at a theater in Chicago, not the actual event). There was a championship tournament set up for IV and the program had a section where you could fill in your guesses for how it would go. Andre, to my mind as a child, was clearly going to go through all four rounds and win the championship. In reality the poor guy could barely move at that point and he got counted out (along with Hulk Hogan) in his first round match. That’s throwing the timeline off of this review a bit, but figured I should throw it out there somewhere. Anyway, this book tells brief snippets of his childhood (including how he had to stop riding the bus at 12 because it would no longer fit him) and how he basically stumbled into wrestling as an adult. He was a natural, and I had no idea that he was as agile as he was back in the day. He could do leapfrogs and dropkicks, two moves that require the wrestler to get completely off their feet. He was later told to stop doing all that high flying stuff and move as little as possible to appear even more intimidating, but man do I wish I could have seen Andre the frickin’ Giant dropkick somebody. The bulk of the book recounts various incidents on the road and at wrestling shows, and Box makes it very plain in the intro that wrestlers are notorious for embellishing their stories, but he did all he could to get to the truth of everything. The big highlights are the preparation for his big Wrestlemania III match and a detailed retelling of the match itself and his time working on The Princess Bride. I had never heard the real story behind the last couple of years of his life, and had no idea that he was still wrestling in Japan basically right up until the end of his life. It’s cliche to call somebody like Andre a “gentle giant,” and he more or less was, but it’s also clear that there was only a certain amount of shit that he was willing to take. At least that was the case in bars; the casual cruelty of way too many humans was just something he had to live with. If you’re curious about the man, this is the book for you. Ever wonder how he was able to use an airplane bathroom? How people would move him if he ever got drunk enough to pass out (and good lord could the man drink)? How they were able to perform surgery on somebody that size? Every bit of that is in here. I can’t recommend this enough, both as a biography of one of the most fascinating man who ever lived and as a graphic novel. Box has really outdone himself here, and his obvious passion for the subject is delightful. Read this and enjoy! $17.99