One of the greatest, most popular, most hated and charismatic wrestlers of all time, Hulk Hogan is one of the men who helped parlay the circus-like world of professional wrestling from cult following into the forefront of American entertainment. What many people who know about Hogan don’t know is he was in the “sport” for several years in virtual obscurity before hitting the big time. Hogan made his pro debut in 1978 and wrestled as “Sterling Golden” before becoming “Hulk.” Hogan was getting main event matches while wrestling in the American Wrestling Alliance (AWA) in the early 1980s before he was cast as Thunderlips in Rocky III (1982). That bit of casting propelled Hogan into the spotlight and he was soon to enter the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1983. At the time, the WWF was just beginning to go from local television (they were based in the Northeast U.S.) to national, and Hogan’s personality (and some well-done marketing and PR, plus the Wrestlemania series) helped to transform not only the WWF, but wrestling into the big show it is today. Hogan won the WWF title numerous times, and was credited with dealing André the Giant his first loss in pro wrestling.
Hogan was soon seen everywhere — television, cartoons, movies, records and lunch boxes — but he was a part of the steroid scandal in the WWF, and quietly left the organization. Hogan laid low in wrestling circles, but continued to act before coming back, this time with World Championship Wrestling (WCW), the WWF’s bitter rival. Hogan helped create the New World Order, the main bunch of badmen in WCW, and became more popular than ever. He abandoned his trademark red and yellow colors for black, and even dyed his beard black. He still wrestles as of today, and, like it or not, is probably one of the best entertainers in any form of show business. He always put on a show.