How Strong Was Andre The Giant?

At this point, it's probably safe to say that everybody knows Andre the Giant. The supersized Frenchman lived a life that was too big to ignore, dominating the public's attention in professional wrestling at an international level before cementing his place in pop culture as Fezzik in The Princess Bride and keeping watch over the bottoms of all the cool kids' skateboards while encouraging them to obey.

And with a massive frame like his, who were the skateboard kids to argue? Billed in the ring as standing 7 feet 4 inches tall and weighing over 500 pounds, he was technically big enough to exceed the weight limits of some mid-range sports cars. At 12 years old, he weighed more than 200 pounds and was already more than six feet tall. The goliath child left home at 14, and by the time he came back five years later, the story goes that his own mother didn't recognize him thanks to his continued growth.

In January of 1993, the man born André René Roussimoff passed away unexpectedly in his sleep at the age of 46. His untimely demise was the result of his unique physical build: his gigantism, caused by an extreme overproduction of growth hormone in his own body, put an enormous strain on his heart, leading to congestive heart failure. It was an unassuming, quiet way to go for a man who had become a modern day folk hero, and like with so many other premature celebrity passings, only seemed to solidify his place as an entertainment legend.

That only complicates the task of putting Andre's life into definable terms. Televised events displaying an old-timey circus strongman lifting 2,000 pound weights and tossing fellow wrestlers around the ring like ragdolls. How many of the esteemed powerhouse's feats were an act, and how much was actual, almost supernatural physical strength?

Andre The Gentle Giant

There's no real way to quantify Andre the Giant's strength in life, outside of anecdotal evidence. There aren't a lot of stories about him showboating at the gym. Andre was famously averse to physical exercise, and by all accounts appeared to naturally possess his monumental strength. Some of the only stories about him lifting weights involved his begrudgingly taking up the exercise as a means of rehabilitation after suffering a back injury, according to Men's Health.

That just makes Andre's physical abilities all the more remarkable. We know that the guy was, like, cartoonishly strong, constantly displaying abilities less suited to the real world than they were to an X-Men comic. A Sports Illustrated piece on Andre from 1981 describes Andre's delight at realizing that he could lift a car, since it meant he could move his friends' vehicles while they weren't looking, repositioning them so that they were wedged between a lamppost and a building or facing the wrong way on the street.

His liver alone could beat you up

Friends and reporters also described the hard work that he put into training one particular section of his body: his liver, which had the unenviable job of processing around 7,000 calories of alcohol every day. Powerlifter Terry Todd relayed this by saying "his average daily consumption was a case or so of beer; a total of two bottles of wine, generally French, with his meals; six or eight shots of brandy, usually Courvoisier or Napolèon, though sometimes Calvados; half a dozen standard mixed drinks, such as Bloody Marys or Screwdrivers; and the odd glass of Pernod." He also mentioned that Andre never seemed affected by the booze, staying congenial and well put together while downing more booze than P.T. Barnum's alcoholic elephant. Basically, Andre the Giant's liver could beat you up without any help from the rest of his body.

Like so many of the Giant's abilities, behaving like a civilized human being while steeped in booze wasn't a gift shared by everyone that surrounded him. The same Sports Illustrated article describes time spent with Andre at a bar in Quebec during which, in the throes of drunken masculinity, a whisky-faded lumberjack tried to fight him. Wrestler Arnold Skaaland was quoted as saying that "Andre turned around to face the guy and spoke to him softly. He told him he didn't want to fight, and he even offered to buy him a drink, but the guy cursed him again. The words barely got out of his mouth when Andre grabbed him by the neck and belt and drove him into the wall across the room." Picking a fight with the biggest guy in the room is always a great way to get yourself a reputation, especially if you want to be known as "the dummy who got all his ribs broken by the 'anybody want a peanut?' guy."