Hulk Hogan Recalls Modeling His 'Hollywood' Character After Superstar Billy Graham

In the week since Superstar Billy Graham passed away, those from all corners of the wrestling world have remarked not just on the success of Graham's career, which included a reign as WWWF Champion in the 1970s, but his influence on wrestling in general. In particular, Graham has been cited as a precursor to WWE Hall of Famers Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan, the latter of whom sported many similarities to Graham during his career, including platinum blonde hair, larger-than-life charisma, and a massive physique.


While Flair commented publicly on Graham prior to his death, Hogan had yet to comment on his wrestling idol, until today. Speaking with Sports Illustrated, Hogan recalled watching Graham as a young man in Florida, and how it was Graham's physical aspects that drew Hogan to the wrestling star. Hogan also freely admitted to modeling parts of his onscreen character on Graham's persona, especially during Hogan's Monday Night War-era NWO heel run as "Hollywood" Hogan in WCW.

"He was decades ahead of his time," says Hogan. "When I saw him, he was a bad guy, yet he drew you to him like a magnet. He looked like a superhero, but when the good guy put his fist up and acted like he was going to punch him in the face, Billy Graham would drop to his knees and start begging and pleading. I modeled 'Hollywood' Hogan after that. Watch Hogan-Sting from WCW, and you'll see a lot of the way Billy Graham carried himself in the ring. Even as a babyface, I did that, too. He was really something special."