Born Terrence Gene Bollea on August 11, 1953 in Atlanta, Georgia, professional wrestler Hulk Hogan was raised in Tampa, Florida. At a young age, he was active in sports such as baseball and by the time he was 16, he began watching professional events. Aside from sports, Hogan is also a skilled musician, as he spent ten years playing bass guitar in various Florida-based rock bands. He attended University of South Florida but later dropped out. He then spent his time at the local gym, where he met professional wrestler Mike Graham, who later convinced him to get into wrestling. Since he was a wrestling fan, he agreed and was introduced to Hiro Matsuda, a top wrestling trainer.
Hulk Hogan's first fight was against Brian Blair on August 10, 1977 in Fort Myers. Shortly thereafter, he went on to complete at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and the NWA Southeast Heavyweight Championship, in which he won his first wrestling championship in 1979. Garnering a huge fan base and prominent followers as well, Hogan later met World Wrestling Federation chief Vince McMahon Sr., who was impressed with Hogan's charisma and physical stature. He was first recruited into the American Wrestling Association (AWA) as heel, a villainous character, but later transitioned into the top baby face (heroic figure) of his time.
Throughout the early 1980s, Hogan garnered success in the New Japan Pro Wrestling, which led him to tour Japan and yield a strong fan base who nicknamed him "Ichiban," which meant "number one."
Hulk Hogan's success reemerged in the United States when he came back for a decade of Hulkmania, marked by his victory over Bill Dixon on December 1983 in St. Louis, Missouri. Shortly thereafter in January 1984, he won the WWF Championship over the Iranian wrestler, Iron Sheik. Throughout the later 80s, Hogan was featured on the cover of magazines such as Sports Illustrated, TV Guide and People, and was also given his own CBS Saturday morning cartoon, Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling. His four-year reign as a champion in 1986 to 1989 led him to his first movie, No Holds Barred.
In the 1990s, Hogan's career as a professional wrestler and actor proliferated, as he also appeared in productions Suburban Commando, Mr. Nanny, Santa with Muscles and 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain. Hogan also wasn't left behind with the reality television phenomena, as he appears in Hogan Knows Best
, a reality show featuring his family, consisting of wife Linda , and children Brooke and Nick. However, Linda filed for divorce on November 2007 after 24 years of marriage. Hogan also became the host the 2008 revival of American Gladiators alongside Laila Ali.
Later that year, Hulk Hogan continued his reality series through his daughter’s own show, Brooke Knows Best. He also hosted and judged the short-lived reality show,Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling before appearing on A&E’s special, Finding Hulk Hogan in 2010.
(Photo courtesy of WWE)