Giant Gonzalez was a professional wrestler and basketball player from Argentina who stood at an impressive 7 feet 7 inches tall. He was best known for his appearances in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in the early 1990s, where he feuded with legendary stars like The Undertaker and Ric Flair. However, his life was cut short by diabetes-related complications that claimed his life at the age of 44. Here is his story and how he died.
Early Life and Basketball Career
Giant Gonzalez was born as Jorge González in El Colorado, Formosa, Argentina on January 31, 1966. He suffered from gigantism, a condition that causes excessive growth due to hormonal imbalance. By the age of 14, he was already 6 feet 9 inches tall.
He started playing basketball at the age of 16, joining the youth team of Hindú Club de Resistencia. He later moved to Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, where he helped the team achieve promotion to the Argentine first division in 1986. He then signed for Sport Club Cañadense, but an injury sidelined him for nine months.
He also played for the Argentine national team in the 1985 South American Basketball Championship (bronze medal) and the 1988 Tournament of the Americas (fifth place). His performance caught the attention of the Atlanta Hawks scouts, who drafted him in the third round of the 1988 NBA draft. He became one of the first Argentine players to be drafted in the NBA, along with Hernán Montenegro.
However, he never played a single game for the Hawks, as he failed to adapt to the physical demands of NBA basketball. He also suffered from a serious knee injury that hampered his mobility.
Professional Wrestling Career
In 1989, Hawks owner Ted Turner offered González a job as a professional wrestler in WCW, which he also owned. González accepted the offer and began training at the WCW Power Plant. He made his debut in May 1990 under the ring name El Gigante (The Giant), wearing a blue bodysuit with white stars.
He quickly became a fan favorite due to his enormous size and gentle demeanor. He feuded with top heels like Sid Vicious, Ric Flair, Lex Luger, and The Four Horsemen. He also teamed up with Sting and Brian Pillman to form The Giantbusters. He had his first pay-per-view match at Halloween Havoc 1990, where he defeated The Motor City Madman.
He continued to wrestle for WCW until 1992, when he left the company due to creative differences. He then joined WWF in January 1993 under the ring name Giant Gonzalez, wearing a hairy bodysuit with airbrushed muscles. He made his debut at the Royal Rumble 1993, where he eliminated The Undertaker from the match. He then began a feud with The Undertaker that lasted until SummerSlam 1993. He lost to The Undertaker in a Rest in Peace match, which was his last match in WWF.
He left WWF in July 1993 and returned to Argentina. He then wrestled for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) and All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) in Japan until 1995, when he retired due to sciatic nerve pain.
Death and Legacy
González suffered from diabetes type 1 since his childhood, which affected his health and quality of life. He also developed heart problems and kidney failure as a result of his condition. He was confined to a wheelchair and had to undergo dialysis regularly.
He died on September 22, 2010 in his hometown of San Martín, Chaco, Argentina from diabetes-related complications. He was 44 years old.
González is remembered as one of the tallest wrestlers in history and one of the most popular Argentine athletes of his time. He is also regarded as a pioneer of Argentine basketball and wrestling. His matches with The Undertaker are considered classics by many fans.