Hulk Hogan on Personal Branding, Family Life and Reality TV
Aug. 22 2011 - 9:23 am
By DAN SCHAWBEL
I recently had the great opportunity to speak to one of my childhood idols, the legendary Hulk Hogan. He is someone who best represents the idea of “personal branding,” as his stage name is known around the world by his millions of fans. He’s created a legacy, even despite his hardships, and has inspired many people. Hulk is one of the most sought-after, instantly recognizable celebrities in the world. He is a twelve-time professional world wrestling champion—six titles with WWE and six with WCW—and the winner of the Royal Rumble in 1990 and 1991. He has appeared in several movies, including Rocky III, was the co-host for NBC’s American Gladiators, and is the executive producer, judge, and host of Hulk Hogan’s Championship Wrestling on CMT. Hogan is a frequent guest on every major talk show, such as Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In this interview, Hulk opens up about how he was originally branded in the wrestling business, his family life, reality television, and much more.
Your real name is Terry Gene Bollea, but your stage name is “Hulk Hogan.” How did you come up with that name, and what role does it play in your life?
Well wrestling was different back in the day. I started off as the “Super Destroyer,” and they had me under a mask, because they didn’t want anybody to see me because they thought It had potential. They didn’t want people to see me screw up in the beginning because they would remember me – as big as I was – so I went through a couple of name changes, including “Terry Boulder,” and “Sterling Golden,” and different promoters gave me different names.
Then as I was wrestling as Terry Boulder. I was on a talk show with Lou Ferrigno, and I was actually bigger than he was! I went back to the dressing room that night and all of the wrestlers go ‘Oh my God you’re bigger than the hulk on TV’ so they started calling me Terry ‘The Hulk’ Boulder. Then when I went to New York, and wrestled for the WWF with Vince McMahon Sr before he passed away he had different names for different groups. Names like Pedro Malvez For Puerto Rican Americans, and Bruno San Martino for Italian Americans, and Chief Jay Strong-boat for the Native Indian Americans. He wanted me to be an Irish American so he gave me the “Hulk Hogan” name and it symbolized me being “Irish.” That’s how the name came about.
How does that name play into your life?
The only time I’m not Hulk Hogan is when I’m behind closed doors because as soon as I walk out the front door, and somebody says hello to me, I can’t just say ‘hello’ like Terry. When they see me, they see the blond hair, the mustache, and the bald head, they instantly think Hulk Hogan. My response is “Hey Brother, how ya doin.” Sometimes it’s not that animated, but usually 24/7 I’m Hulk Hogan. Nobody at the mall or at the airport calls me Terry.
It’s changed my life – it’s been very positive. All the negative stuff, or the low periods of my life, are just the downfalls of doing business. But if you look at the big picture, it’s been great to have that character and image in this career.