What reasonable expectation of privacy have any of us got these days? With any public event covered by numerous cameras silently recording all of our actions, privacy has become a rarer commodity than it was in the past, but even celebrities, who after all make their income from being constantly in the public eye can surely expect a degree of privacy, at least within their own homes.
The life of Terry Bollea, better known by his iconic wrestling handle of Hulk Hogan has been defined by attention from the media from the very start, firstly during his long and successful wrestling career that saw him achieve Worldwide fame and an iconic status amongst his millions of fans, and after that by ‘Hogan Knows Best’, the reality show that took us into the Hogan home and let us see the real man behind the wrestling persona. It’s perhaps surprising then that one who has always dealt with media attention so well, and carved a place for himself as one of the World’s most enduring and iconic wrestlers has encountered so many turbulent events in recent years. He’s become a champion for those who have suffered their own invasions of personal privacy, encountered personal problems that have turned his private life upside down, and faced controversy for comments made during a private conversation, but where is Hulk Hogan now in 2017, and what has the Hulkster got planned for the future? Read on to find out.
Hulk Hogan – Early Life and Career
Terrence Eugene Bollea was born on August 11th 1953 in Augusta, Georgia. His father Pietro, known as Peter, was a construction foreman and his mom Ruth was a dance teacher. The Bollea family relocated to Port Tampa, Florida before Terry was two years old and he attended high school there, where he showed early promise as a pitcher in Little League baseball. The athletically gifted youngster attracted attention from the New York Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds, but unfortunately an injury ended his baseball career before he graduated from high school.
With the demise of his sporting hopes Terry Bollea turned his attention to professional wrestling, just as a fan originally, but as time went on he became more influenced and inspired by his wrestling heroes such as Superstar Billy Graham and Dusty Rhodes. He was also an accomplished musician at the time, playing bass guitar for a Florida based rock band called ‘Ruckus’ that began to become popular around the Tampa Bay area in the late seventies, but soon the squared circle would prove to have a greater claim on Terry’s ambitions.
He began working out at a Tampa Bay gym where he met several wrestlers, others he met through performances with ‘Ruckus’, including brothers Jack and Gerald Brisco, who wrestled as a tag-team for Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF). Impressed by the young mans six and a half feet frame, that was quickly filling out with muscle due to his exertions at the gym, the Brisco brothers persuaded Terry to try wrestling for himself and after a year a year of training in preparation, Terry Bollea eventually appeared as the masked ‘Super Destroyer’ in a CWF match in August 1977.
Terry took a break from wrestling in order to run a private club in Florida for a businessman called Whitey Bridges, and the pair went on to open a gym together, ‘Whitey & Terry’s Olympic Gym’. Eventually Terry’s close friend Ed Leslie, who would later find fame as Brutus Beefcake came to Florida to help out at the gym, and Terry, who was beginning to miss the World of wrestling began talking about the potential for the pair to join up as a tag team. Eventually they performed together as ‘The Boulder Brothers’ for a while, until that is Terry appeared on a local talk show sat next to the star of The Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno. Terry’s build was noticeably bigger than even the legendary muscles of Ferrigno, and he soon began wrestling under the name ‘Terry The Hulk Boulder’.
Hulk Hogan’s longevity as a wrestler is virtually unknown in the modern age of the sport, only The Undertaker can really compare in terms of the length of his career, but Hogan was already contesting bouts when the undertaker was barely a teenager. During the decades he has been wrestling Hulk Hogan has become regarded by many fans as the greatest professional wrestler of all time, he is certainly one of the most iconic athletes in the sport. IGN rated him the most recognized wrestler Worldwide and the most popular wrestler of the 1980’s when they ranked him third in their list of the greatest Wrestlers of all time in 2012.
Hogan has been World Champion twelve times, and WWF World Heavyweight Champion a further six times. He became the first wrestler to win the annual exhibition event The Royal Rumble back to back by winning it in 1990 and 1991, and he achieved legendary status when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. During three decades he worked for WWF/WWE several times, the New Japan Professional Wrestling (NJPW) franchise, the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), and along the way, the big man of wrestling, the one that body-slammed Andre the Giant became bigger than his ring persona, he became a celebrity in his own right.
His first big acting role was as ‘Thunderlips’ in Rocky III, released in 1982, the following year he married girlfriend Linda Claridge. His fame and popularity grew in the 1980’s and many more TV and film roles followed. In 1988 the couple had their first child, a daughter, Brooke, and their son, Nick followed in 1990.
Hulk Hogan and Hogan Knows Best
In 2005 the Hulk embarked on his own reality TV show with ‘Hogan Knows Best’. The show centered on the Hulk and his family, and in particular on his usually comical interactions with potential suitors of his daughter Brooke, except it wasn’t just potential suitors that got a steely eye of suspicion from the Hulk, it was any male that she happened to come in contact with.
The show was played for laughs, it had a tongue-in-cheek style reminiscent of ‘The Osbournes’, but it always came down to Hulk Hogan trying to make sure that his family did things by his rules, and it was always mainly Brooke that he most often came into conflict with. Hogan was criticised in the press for his over-protective attitude and interference in his 18 year old daughters life, but he found plenty of support from other fathers of teenage girls, who understood his attitude completely.
The show was always ‘soft-scripted’, where the cast follow a loosely agreed scenario for each episode, but it was enough to see that Hogan really did care about his family more than anything. After a reasonably successful first season, the show was commissioned for a further three, and viewers grew up with the Hogan family as Brooke embarked on her music career and Nick began following his dream of becoming a professional driver, in fact he earned a licence to race competitively in Formula Drift events in 2006, but it was Nick’s driving that would begin the quick and shocking end of Hogan knows Best, and the end of the Hogan family as we knew it.
In August 2007 Nick, then aged just 17, crashed into a tree at high speed while under the influence, Nick was miraculously uninjured, but his friend and passenger was far more unlucky. John Graziano was a 22 year old US Marine, and a member of Nick’s pit crew, or he had been before the accident, the resulting brain injuries he received in the crash would leave him needing full-time care for the rest of his life. Nick eventually received an eight month sentence, to be served in Pinellas county jail, but in a virtually unprecedented move, the Pinellas County Sheriffs Office decided to release recordings of phone conversations an incarcerated, and obviously distraught Nick had with his parents while he was serving his time. Hogan and his family had reasonably expected the recordings to be used only for review by corrections officers and never to be released to the press, but the media jumped on several remarks by Nick during the conversations and decided to make the Hogan family look as bad as possible.
Unfortunately for both the Hulk and son Nick, things only got worse shortly after Nick was released from jail in October 2007. In November of that year Linda filed for divorce from her husband after a marriage lasting twenty four years. There had been problems between them for a while and there had been allegations of indiscretions on both sides, but by then Linda had decided divorce was the only answer, her court papers stated the marriage was ‘irretrievably broken’ and the split marked a definite end to Hogan Knows Best as a show. Brooke starred in her own follow up show ‘Brooke Knows Best’ from 2008, but it was eventually cancelled after just two seasons due to poor viewing figures.
Hulk Hogan and Legal Action Against Gawker
In April 2012, the US based blog Gawker released a short 20 second segment of a sex-tape featuring Hogan, and Heather Clem, the wife of radio show host Todd Clem, known professionally as Bubba the Love Sponge. The tape, which had been recorded at Bubba and Heather’s home without Hogan’s knowledge, captured him sharing intimate moments with Heather, with the full knowledge and approval of husband Bubba, who was also present in the room. After Gawker released the clip, that had allegedly been leaked to them by an anonymous source, Hogan sued them for $100 million for defamation and loss of privacy, Eventually after a protracted legal battle during which Gawker claimed the clip was newsworthy and protected by freedom of speech, Hogan eventually won the case and was awarded $115 million in damages in March 2016.
It later became clear that previous bad blood between Gawker and Pay-pal Co-founder Peter Thiel had led Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire who had been the subject of a Gawker article in 2007 regarding his sexuality, to fund Hogan to the tune of $10 million in his lawsuit against the company. It later transpired that it was not the first such lawsuit that Thiel had funded against Gawker Media, but this time he had finally achieved his aim of shutting the blog down.
The Hulk had perhaps had his expectations of privacy challenged enough for one lifetime, but the biggest blow of all was yet to come. One that would potentially strip him of his wrestling legacy for good.
What’s Hulk Hogan Doing Now in 2017 – Recent Updates
In July 2015 another portion of the sex tape was leaked to the National Enquirer, and this segment contained Hogan making repeated use of racial slurs. The comments referred to a boyfriend of Brooke’s, and given Hogan’s record for over-protectiveness they were perhaps understandable in context, but the Wrestling industry washed its hands of the former champion. His contract with the WWE was terminated and the franchise removed all trace of Hogan’s illustrious career from their website, no longer was his name mentioned on WWE programs, and despite Hogan’s unreserved and sincere apology, and his admission that the conversation, recorded eight years previously, had contained offensive language that it was ‘unacceptable’ for him to have used, Hogan was scrubbed from wrestling history, all except in the eyes of his many fans who could not forget his decades of triumph so easily.
In November 2016 it was announced that Hulk Hogan had agreed to settle the lawsuit with Gawker, which had by now declared bankruptcy, for $31 million. In December 2016 Hogan was named man of the year, along with Peter Thiel by the conservative blog Washington Free Beacon, citing the pairs take-down of Gawker for the award, but on December 18th 2016 perhaps the most hopeful indication of the Hulk’s future career came from an unlikely source.
During the WWE’s ‘Roadblock : End of The Line’ event that aired that night Hogan’s name was mentioned as a former great, only in passing, but it seems that the WWE are not quite able to forget one of their biggest, most popular and longest lasting stars just yet.
The Hulkster now lives with his second wife, Jennifer, who he married in December 2010, in Clearwater, Florida. He remains a hero to millions of fans, and still encourages everyone to work hard, and most importantly of all, to keep on taking those vitamins.