You can only live a lie for so long before it catches up with you—just ask children’s idol and wrestling star Hulk Hogan.
Hogan, real name Terry Bollea, is about to become the Pee Wee Herman of 1992. Bollea, who has made millions of dollars portraying the Hogan character, has been accused of taking anabolic steroids and many other illegal drugs. Hogan is going to be crucified in the media over the next few weeks. His career as a children’s hero should be effectively over, and justifiably so.
Last week the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune both ran stories where scores of wrestlers detailed Hogan’s steroid and drug abuse. This week People magazine will have a feature revealing more of the same. ABC’s “20/20” and CBS‘ “60 Minutes” aren’t too far behind either.
Former wrestlers David “Dr.D” Schultz and Superstar Billy Graham, whose body is disintegrating following years of steroid use, both said they injected steroids into Hogan’s body. Another wrestler said Hogan has taken every drug under the sun, including snorting cocaine before his matches. This doesn’t even take into account charges of homosexual sexual harassment and sexual abuse of minors by those in charge of the World Wrestling Federation, Hogan’s employer.
Now most people will laugh and shrug the story off because after all, “It’s only pro wrestling, it’s fake.”
Hey, Ray Charles can see wrestling is as phony as a three dollar bill, but that’s hardly the issue here folks.
The important fact is that Hulk Hogan lied to the millions of little kids who looked up to him.
Hogan’s spiel said he was an all-American hero. He always told the kids that if they said their prayers, ate their vitamins and trained hard, they could grow up to be as big as he was. Kids ate up all this hyperbole like trained seals and dragged their parents to the arenas, buying everything from Hulk Hogan t-shirts to WWF Underoos along the way. Little did they know that Hogan got his “24-inch pythons” from years of illegal steroid abuse and actually said his prayers to a false god—cocaine.
Professional wrestling is marketed to children in this country, at a clip of perhaps $500 million a year in total income. Little kids, or more precisely their parents’ pocketbooks, are buying into dreams of being like their favorite wrestling hero.
It’s terrible that the whole deal turned out to be one huge lie. When their children come with questions, parents are going to have to break the news—”Sorry Johnny, the Hulkster is a bad person—he took steroids and drugs for a long time.”
What’s even worse is that Hogan has had several chances to come clean along the way. Hogan vehemently denied steroid use on the Arsenio Hall Show last October.
Hogan could certainly be forgiven if he admitted his mistake. But his constant denials, even in the face of evidence against him, are only helping him drive his own nails into the coffin.
The world is certainly short of role models. It is going to be a hard thing for Mr. Bollea to look himself in the mirror after trampling on the hearts of so many innocent, believing youngsters.