-- a.k.a. Hulk Hogan
-- will be appearing tonight
at the central library downtown from 7 to 10 p.m. Read the RFT preview of the Hulk's visit.
The Hulkster swings through St. Louis to support his new autobiography "Hulk Hogan: My Life Outside the Ring"
, and guess what? The book is actually pretty good -- especially if you grew up in the 1980s or '90s watching the good Hogan -- clad in yellow and red -- or his evil, heel-character Hollywood Hogan.
The book spills plenty of tales of steroids and drugs of the early WWF and WWE as seen from the eyes of Bollea, who grew up in Tampa playing guitar and bass in rock bands while pining to get in the ring like his idols Superstar Billy Graham
and Dusty Rhodes
It wasn't until Hogan moved to Cocoa Beach in the late-1970s with his buddy Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake
that the two really began to hit the gym -- and the 'roids hard. For a time the two lived in a van together, a la Mickey Rourke's The Wrestler
, as they wrestled the minor-league circuits of Florida and Alabama.
Writes Hogan of his early steroid use:
I had a new found confidence that didn't exist back in Tampa, so I called up Superstar Billy Graham.
"Dude, I think my arms are bigger than yours now. I just taped my
biceps and they're twenty-four inches!" When Superstar Bill Graham's hit twenty-two inches in the mid-1970s they were considered the biggest
guns in the world. Now all of a sudden mine were twenty-four inches
around! I couldn't touch my shoulders for like a year. I was so bloated
Sylvester Stallone's 1982 film Rocky III
officially launched Hogan's career when he played the over-the-top wrestler, Thunderlips. Nearly overnight the six-foot-seven-inch Hogan became an international sensation able to sell out arenas in the United States and Japan -- where the wrestler lived for a year in the early 1980s following a spat with Vince McMahon Sr.
It was the wrestling promoter's son, Vince McMahon Jr.
, who would bring Hogan back into the fold of the WWF. Together the promoter and his biggest star would spend days together writing the scripts that would make the WWF -- now the WWE -- into the most popular wrestling circuit in the nation.
It hasn't always been a smooth ride. Hogan's inability to say "no" had him wrestling up to seven days a weeks. As Hogan acknowledges, the outcomes of the matches are pre-determined but those choreographed body slams and elbow-blows still can take their toll physically.
Hogan also faced backlash from other wrestlers for his affinity for marijuana -- Hogan's drug of choice. After years of denying his own steroid use, the wrestler who always implored kids to "eat their vitamins", was forced to recount his steroid use before a congressional committee.
Then there is his nasty divorce and near death of his son -- recounted in the second half of the book -- that reveals why the family behind the reality show Hogan Knows Best
will never be mistaken for the clan of Ward and June Cleaver.
All in all, though, the Hulkster doesn't hold many punches, err leg-drops, throughout his 300-page recounting of his life -- a must read for all true fans of wrestling.
Those wishing to meet Hogan tonight must bring a copy of the new book (or purchase one at the library) to gain admittance.
Oh yeah, brother!