Representations of Hulk Hogan in the 1980s: Christianity, Masculinity, Xenophobia

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In 1984, professional wrestler Hulk Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik to win the WWF Heavyweight Title. Thus marked the birth of ‘Hulkamania’, a near-decade-long period when Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) crossed over into American popular culture. In the following years, Hogan battled a series of proxies for America’s enemies, from the Soviet rival in Nikolai Volkoff, Iranian sympathizer Sergeant Slaughter, and the Japanese sumo wrestler Yokozuna, among other opponents. More importantly, Hogan appeared on American talk shows, the front of magazines, had his own children’s cartoons, and marketed workout devices, toys, food, and a host of other ephemera. Existing in a liminal space between sport and entertainment, professional wrestling allows athletes/performers far more opportunities to cultivate messages and meanings through their bodies. Using film, wrestling magazines, and wrestling broadcasts, this article argues that Hogan’s body and his use of his body were paramount to his success. More than that, the use of his body embodied ideals about American masculinity. It embodied all-American strength, an ability to succeed no matter the odds, and a fierce Christian patriotism. Hogan was one of the biggest stars of the 1980s, inside and outside of sport. His body and its representation are thus worthy of study.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 23 Jan 2023


  • professional wrestling
  • Hulk Hogan
  • American History
  • masculinity
  • popular culture


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