Hulk Hogan has discussed the recent passing of the legendary "Superstar" Billy Graham who passed away last weekend at the age of 79.
Hogan spoke about the influence Graham had on pro wrestling during his peak during an interview with Sports Illustrated.
He was decades ahead of his time. When I saw him, he was a bad guy, yet he drew you to him like a magnet. He looked like a superhero, but when the good guy put his fist up and acted like he was going to punch him in the face, Billy Graham would drop to his knees and start begging and pleading. I modeled ‘Hollywood’ Hogan after that. Watch Hogan-Sting from WCW, and you’ll see a lot of the way Billy Graham carried himself in the ring. Even as a babyface, I did that, too. He was really something special.
The first thing that connected with me about ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham was the physical aspect. I was eight or nine when my father started taking me to wrestling in Tampa. Years later, when I started playing in a rock-’n’-roll band and my dad had retired from working construction, I remember telling him, ‘You took me to the wrestling matches. Now I want to take you.’ We were so excited to see the matches in Tampa, which were in the [Fort Homer Hesterly] Armory. I still remember ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham standing on the second turnbuckle and doing the double bicep. That was the moment for me. I told my dad, ‘I want to be just like that guy.’ I was already a huge Dusty Rhodes fan, but ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham took it to a whole new level.
When I got into the wrestling business, I was there the night he had the bench-press contest against Jos LeDuc. I rode to the Bayfront Center, which was a venue in St. Petersburg, and I was in the car with Sir Oliver Humperdinck and Billy Graham. I was shaking like a leaf the whole time. Years later we became friends. We became close, though our friendship had its share of twists and turns over the years. We made peace after we both found God. He was a marvelous person, and I’m grateful I had the chance to know him.
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