On the latest edition of VOC Nation’s Wrestling With History legendary journalist Bill Apter and AWA personality Ken Resnick discuss the career of Andre the Giant, which includes them sharing stories of him drinking with Harley Race and spending time on Andre’s ranch. Highlights are below.
Bill Apter discusses when he found out about Andre the Giant:
“When I first (became aware of him), he was wrestling under the name Jean Ferre in the Montreal area. Our photographer Tony Lanza used to send photos of him with girls on his shoulders, (little people) on his shoulders, and his great matches against another giant who was a little shorter than Andre – Don Leo Jonathan.”
How a lot of stories about Andre were fabricated:
“Mr (Stanley) Weston who had hired me to be in this career, had written a story – like he did with (others) – he wrote a (sensationalized kayfabe) story about Andre the Giant (titled) ‘This is Your Life: Andre the Giant’ and I thought the story was legit. So Andre came to New York early on…when I first met Andre…Frank (Valois, his handler at the time) told Andre that I came from the company that wrote his life story… Andre looked at me, and in this husky voice, said “who wrote that bull(crap)?”…he was very angry.”
Recalls a drinking contest between Andre and Harley Race in New Orleans:
“In New Orleans, at Pat O’Brien’s Restaurant…all the wrestlers used to go there after the shows that Bill Watts ran. There were about 12 wrestlers: On (one end) of the table was Harley Race, who was known to drink more beer than any wrestler in the world. On the other side was Andre. And they kept challenging each other to drink beer. It must have been 65 or 70 (beers) and Harley said ‘that’s it, I’m not having any more tonight.’ And I remember (Andre) going to the men’s room (after) and I said ‘Andre are you ok? Are you sick?’ and he said, ‘no I have to get rid of it so I can drink more.’ I’ll never forget that story.”
Ken Resnick on drinking with Andre after the matches:
“I was in the AWA and he came in to the territory for a (series of) Battle Royals. I was introduced to him, he understood that I was doing the interviews… After one of the cards here in St Paul (Minnesota), a bunch of us went out to a restaurant called Mancini’s. It was close to the St Paul Civic Center… Andre was just so huge, he would take a beer bottle with his thumb and his forefinger (and) down it. Andre would have bottles of wine like (people) would have bottles of water.”
Resnick on spending time with Andre at his ranch:
“When that all came together, I was off and I got a call on Friday afternoon saying I had to catch a plane on Saturday morning to Charlotte. And we went out to Andre’s ranch in Ellerbe, and cut all these interviews with him as one of the Machines… I got a chance to spend the day with Andre and Frenchy at the ranch… I remember after we were done with the interviews, we went into the living room, sat down, and visited. It was like you see in the cartoons – all his furniture was custom made. So I’m sitting on this chair in the living room and it’s so high that my feet are just dangling in the air!”
Check out the full episode below.