Hogan was born Terry Gene Bollea in Augusta, Georgia, the son of Peter Bollea, a construction foreman, and Ruth, a homemaker and dance teacher. He is of Italian, French, and Panamanian heritage.
As a boy, he was a pitcher in Little League Baseball. He began watching professional wrestling at 16 years old. While in high school, he revered Dusty Rhodes, and he regularly attended cards at the Tampa Sportatorium. It was at one of those wrestling cards where he first turned his attention towards "Superstar" Billy Graham and looked to him for inspiration; since he first saw Graham on TV, Hogan wanted to match his "inhuman" look. Hogan was also a skilled musician, spending ten years playing bass guitar in several Florida-based rock bands.
He went on to study at Hillsborough Community College and the University of South Florida. After music gigs began to get in the way of his time in college, Hogan decided to drop out of the University of South Florida before receiving any degree. Eventually, Hogan and two local musicians formed a band called Ruckus in 1976. The band soon became a local sensation in the Tampa Bay region.
During his spare time, Hogan worked out at Hector's Gym in the Tampa Bay area and eventually became strong enough to do big lifting. Many of the wrestlers who were competing in the Florida region visited the bars where Ruckus was performing. Among those attending his performances were Jack and Gerald Brisco, two brothers who wrestled together as a tag team in the Florida region. Impressed by Hogan's physical stature, the Brisco brothers asked Hiro Matsuda—the man who trained wrestlers working for Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF)—to make him a potential trainee. In 1976, the two brothers asked Hogan to try wrestling. Having been a wrestling fan since childhood, Hogan eventually agreed. At first, however, Mike Graham, the son of CWF promoter Eddie Graham, refused to put Hogan in the ring; according to Hogan, he met Graham while in high school and the two didn't get along. However, after Hogan quit Ruckus and started telling people in town that he was going to be a wrestler, Mike Graham finally agreed to accept the Brisco Brothers' request.
Read more about this topic: Hulk Hogan
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