When you first meet Hulk Hogan face-to-face (make that face to belly-button), you are tempted to blurt out to the 6-foot-7, 275-pound professional wrestler, "Oh man, you are huge."
And we do mean huge. Biceps like ham hocks -- so large that a regular shirt won't hold them (he wears denim cutoffs). Thighs the size of redwoods. Everywhere you look at Hulk Hogan, there's muscle. Even his eyelids are muscular.
This Herculean-sized man is affectionately called "The Hulkster" by thousands of screaming Hulkamaniacs. But he's just "Terry" to his wife of seven years, Linda, and "Daddy" to his two children, 6-year-old Brooke and 4-year-old Nicholas. And that suits the Hulkster just fine.
Yes, even Hulk Hogan has a sensitive side. The man who once picked up the 500-pound, 7-feet-tall Andre the Giant and slammed him down to the mat with a mighty thud now can be found picking up the kids from elementary school.
Mr. Hogan was in town recently to talk about his "Superbrawl V" match Sunday night against "Vader" at the Baltimore Arena. As the Hulkster says, though, "This ain't no ordinary match, brother!" That's because his World Championship Wrestling heavyweight title is on the line.
Mr. Hogan, 41, says he has to work hard to keep up with the younger wrestlers, especially someone like Vader, who's so nasty he wears what looks like a harness on his face. Ooo.
"The guy does scare me," says Mr. Hogan, looking decidedly un-scared over lunch at the Polo Grille. "No matter what you might think about wrestling being fake or choreographed or whatever, you have to admit that Vader is scary-looking."
Actually, during lunch, Mr. Hogan was more interested in talking about his kids than the dreaded Vader.
ZTC Ask why he got back into wrestling after a two-year retirement, Mr. Hogan says he did it for his son. "My son never saw me wrestle. Nick would come home from nursery school and ask me, 'Dad, what's Hulkamania?"
As for what his typical day is like, it may surprise some to learn that the Hulkster doesn't start it by downing a glass of raw eggs, running 10 miles or going to the gym to bench-press a few hundred pounds. It begins with Dad making breakfast for the kids.
"I've got it down to a science. Eggs, sausage and cinnamon toast -- seven minutes," he says proudly. "Then I pack their lunches. I get the sandwich, the yogurt, the little fruit-toots -- pack it into the Batman and Barbie lunch boxes. Then it's off to school."
Only after these domestic chores are completed does Mr. Hogan head to the gym. After a couple of hours of working out, he heads home.
Mr. Hogan senses the disappointment. "I know it doesn't sound like much," he says almost apologetically, "But when you're at my age, you have to really work at staying in shape. . . . When I was single, I'd think nothing of going out all night and having fun. Now it's different."
He even eats right -- puts his napkin in his lap, just like his mother taught him. You might expect a burly guy such as Mr. Hogan to order something like the "raw meat du jour," but instead it's two grilled chicken breasts -- with no butter, no salt, no grease -- an egg white omelet with spinach and mushrooms, and a tossed salad with red onions.
He notices that his lunch companion is eating only a salad.
"This is too much food for me," he says, sounding vaguely like Ward Cleaver on "Leave It To Beaver." Then he puts some chicken on an extra plate for his companion.
Gee, you'd think Dad would cut the meat for you first.
When: Sunday, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Baltimore Arena
Tickets: $50, $22, $15, $9
Call: (410) 481-SEAT for tickets