Hulk Hogan's 30-year career has had plenty of highs and lows

By Alex Heigl
July 24, 2015 01:55 PM
Tony Bock/Toronto Star/Getty

Professional wrestling and TV personality Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bolea is in the midst of a firestorm of controversy following the release of an audio transcript that reveals him making racist comments about his daughter Brooke’s love life.

Below, a select list of some of Hogan’s triumphs and tragedies inside and outside the ring.

WWF Debut: 1979

Hogan made his World Wrestling Federation debut in November 1979. He actually left the organization for a time, returning in 1983, which marked the beginning of the “Hulkamania” era.

Hulkamania: 1984

As part of WWF head Vince McMahon’s push for nationwide dominance, the charismatic Hogan re-entered the WWF as the new face of the company. It’s hard to describe “Hulkamania” to anyone who didn’t witness it: It was a bizarre mix of wholesome lifestyle directions from Hogan (training, saying prayers, eating vitamins and believing in yourself) and exaggerated in-ring rituals and routines that codified a lot of modern professional wrestling’s practices.

Pop Culture Dominance: 1984-1988

Hogan was everywhere through the ’80s. He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, TV Guide and yes, PEOPLE. He had his own Saturday morning cartoon show and was the most-requested celebrity of the ’80s for the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Steroid Allegations: 1992

Hogan faced allegations of steroid use in the early ’90s that forced him to take a leave of absence from the WWF. He was named in the 1991 testimony of Dr. George Zahorian III, a wrestling doctor convicted of distributing steroids. “Hulk always bragged about steroids,” Joe Bednarski, who retired from his WWF career as Ivan Putski, the Polish Power, in 1986, told PEOPLE at the time.

Hollywood: ’90s

Though Hogan had an appearance in Rocky III in 1982, his Hollywood run didn’t really start until 1989, when he appeared in No Holds Barred before cashing in as a family-friendly star in films like Suburban Commando (1991), Mr. Nanny (1993), the prosaically titled Santa with Muscles (1996) and 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1996).

Decline as a Wrestler: Mid-’90s

Hogan left the WWF in 1993, signed with competitor WCW in 1994, and in 1996, began his first turn as a “heel” (villain) within the ranks of the WCW. Hogan’s positive, all-American image was increasingly at odds with the wrestling trends of the late ’90s and early ’00s, and a series of lawsuits and injuries saw him usurped by younger stars.

Reality TV Career: 2005

Hogan Knows Best, which followed Hogan, then-wife Linda, and their children Brooke and Nick, premiered on VH1 in 2005. It ran for four seasons before being canceled in the wake of Hogan’s divorce situation.

Legal Troubles: 1980s, 2010s

Hogan has been involved with multiple legal struggles aside from his divorce from Linda, which included multiple allegations of infidelity. The earliest stems from a 1985 incident on Richard Belzer’s talk show, in which Hogan placed Belzer in a choke hold, causing the host to pass out and hit his head on the studio floor. Belzer sued, and the pair settled out of court.

Hogan is currently embroiled in an ongoing lawsuit with New York-based gossip site The site published a short clip of a sex tape featuring Hogan and Heather Clem, the estranged wife of radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge. Hogan sued Bubba and Clem in 2012 and settled; his invasion-of-privacy litigation against Gawker is ongoing.