Who is Hulk Hogan and why doesn't anyone like him?.

Born Terry Gene Bollea, Hulk Hogan was a part time body builder, part time bouncer, very part time musician and full time bank teller. The story has it -and separating fact from reality is difficult in the world of pro-wrestling - that one night while working as a bouncer Hogan met up with wrestler Jack Brisco who immediately saw the potential of this golden haired 6ft 5 inch 300 pounder.

Hogan trained with legendary Japanese wrestler Hiro Matsuda and made his debut in 1978 as Terry 'The Hulk' Boulder. For a short time he was joined in tag team matches by his 'brother' Eddie Boulder ( Ed Leslie), an old friend of Hogan's who later became better known as Brutus Beefcake a.k.a Butcher a.k.a the man with no name a.k.a Zodiac. In 1979 Hogan joined the WWF as a heel7 yet in spite of this fact, the crowds loved him, and in pro-wrestling there is nothing of less value than a heel who isn't hated, so he left the WWF to tour Japan. Hogan was a huge hit in Japan. He fulfilled his desire to be a rock star by recording an album, he starred in a comic book and made nineteen successful tours of the country. In 1981 Hogan returned to the USA to wrestle for the struggling AWA once again he began as a heel but with the incredible response he drew from the crowd the promoters had no option but to turn him face. Hogan's popularity was such that it was only a matter of time before he would be snapped up by one of the two main promotions McMahon's WWF or the Crockett family's NWA.

Like circus, pro-wrestling tends to be a family affair and the McMahons and Crocketts ruled the two biggest promotions in the USA. It was also a regional thing with each family having clearly defined borders which were respected by the other promotions. In 1981 all that ended thanks to Hulk Hogan and cable TV.

Pro-wrestling was made for Television, it is relatively cheap to produce, takes place in a confined space, mostly indoors and has its own self created cast of colourful characters of the type that television loves. And unlike most sport pro-wrestling leaves nothing to chance. In the early days of television in both the US and Australia pro-wrestling was part of the staple diet. Now in 1981 for all the same reasons pro-wrestling became major part of the rapidly growing cable industry and Vince McMahon Snr and son Vince Jnr saw it as a way of expanding the WWF across the US and then on to the rest of the globe.

It was the time of the Iranian hostage crisis, the spectre of Vietnam was still fresh in their collective memory. America was down. For blue collar America this was compounded by the raising rate of unemployment and the take over or disappearance of many US companies in the face of foreign competitors. In pro-wrestling McMahon Snr. had installed as WWF champion 'The Iron Sheik' (Khosrow Vaziri) a former Iranian Olympic wrestler whose character complete with traditional Arab head dress and curled up pointy toed shoes raised heat right across the USA via cable and in the stadiums. The Iron Sheik not only beat his American opponents, he humiliated them and their country including desecrating the holy of holies the US flag. Enter Hulk Hogan, Recently returned from his huge success in Japan. Hogan's new found face character was perhaps best summed up in the words of what was to become his theme song.

I am a real American, fight for the right of everyman I am a real American, Fight for what's right, fight for your life.

On January 23 1984 in Madison Square Gardens Hogan bearing the US flag and a crucifix dangling around his neck ran into the ring and to the accompaniment of a fanatical capacity crowd easily defeated the Iron Sheik to win the WWF world championship. Blue collar America needed a hero so one was invented. He spoke of his pride in being American reinforcing the almost xenophobic national pride of his fans. He urged the "little hulk-a-maniacs" out there to work hard, be honest and say their prayers. It was just what a jaded blue collar American audience wanted to hear. America was still great and if they all worked together and fought for what they believed in then the USA was still the greatest nation on earth. Hogan transcended wrestling. He became a regular on the talk show circuit, preaching his "commandments",train hard eat your vitamins and say your prayers'. He appeared in cartoon form on Saturday morning television and in movies. Hogan was articulate, witty and effortlessly maintained character. This maintenance of the Hulk Hogan character is yet another link with the tradition of carnival.

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