Since the 1990s, Big Show has more than lived up to his stage name. Yes, standing at over seven feet tall and weighing in at over 400 pounds for much of his career, the WWE star has often towered over – and outbulked – most of his opponents. Now, though, the sports legend looks very different from the man who made his Wrestlemania debut all the way back in 1999. And when you see how Big Show has completely transformed himself, your jaw may just drop.
Big Show entered the world in February 1972 as Paul Donald Wight II. And as a child, he had acromegaly – a disorder that is typically a result of the pituitary gland making too much growth hormone. Owing to the condition, then, Wight was much larger in stature as a youngster than other kids his age.
Indeed, Wight measured more than six feet and weighed 220 pounds at the tender age of 12. Seven years later, moreover, he was recorded as being over seven feet tall in his profile for the Wichita State University basketball team. In the early 1990s, though, Wight had a surgical procedure on his pituitary gland, and the effects of his acromegaly slowed down as a consequence.
Nevertheless, Wight was still gigantic at this point; he not only boasted a 22 5E shoe size and a ring size of 22, but also a chest that measured an incredible 64 inches. Thanks to that imposing physique, then, he was perfectly poised to become a famous wrestler.
Yet Wight’s journey to the ring wasn’t exactly straightforward. And prior to becoming a star, he’d actually been employed in a number of jobs – including bounty hunting and bouncing. It would be a gig answering phones that would unexpectedly give him his big break, however.
While working as a call handler for a karaoke business, Wight had encountered Danny Bonaduce through a contest on the actor and professional wrestler’s morning radio show. In turn, Bonaduce had introduced Wight to his buddy Hulk Hogan – undoubtedly one of the most famous wrestling stars of all time.
After that, Wight took part in a basketball game to advertise a World Championship Wrestling (WCW) match that would be taking place at the Rosemont Horizon in Illinois. And during the promo event, Hogan noticed Wight’s rapport with the audience, leading the legend to put the fan’s name forward to WCW vice president Eric Bischoff.
Wight subsequently met Bischoff at the Rosemont Horizon show and signed a deal with WCW. And this must have been a dream come true for the South Carolinian. You see, Wight had previously expressed his desire to join the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) – the entertainment company that would later become known as WWE.
Before joining WCW, Wight had only appeared in one professional wrestling match. And his 1994 debut bout in Clementon, New Jersey, hadn’t gone smoothly, either, as he had ultimately been defeated by the World Wrestling Association heavyweight champion Frank Finnegan. But the rookie wouldn’t make a habit of losing in his subsequent career.
Furthermore, when Wight first entered the WCW, his enormous stature likely captured the imagination of wrestling fans. At seven feet tall and ranging from 383 to 500 pounds in weight, Wight was a monster of a man who possessed the ability to psych out his competitors with his epic size and icy glare.
Wight was able to intimidate in the ring, too. In his debut WCW match – at which time he was known as “The Giant” – he immediately made a big splash, defeating the mighty Hogan to become the promotion’s world champion. That said, the win was later nullified.
Yes, Wight was stripped of the title after it emerged that Hogan’s manager Jimmy Hart had intentionally gotten his client disqualified. After that, Hart had then jumped ship to The Giant’s team. Yet all was not lost for Wight. During his time with WCW, he went on to win the World Heavyweight Championship on two occasions.
Ultimately, Wight decided to leave the WCW in 1999 after a dispute over money. He had reportedly claimed that he’d earned only a portion of the cash given to his co-stars; in addition, his appeal for a pay rise had apparently been declined. So, Wight allowed his contract to expire on February 8, 1999 – which happened to be the day he turned 27.
Then, the very next day, Wight joined the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) on a ten-year contract. And it was during his time with the promotion that he relaunched himself under the ring name Big Show – and became a wrestling sensation to boot.
Over the course of his career in the ring, Wight has scooped seven world championship titles as Big Show. Alongside his two WCW heavyweight titles, he has also won the WWF/WWE Championship twice, the WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship two times and the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. To date, he’s the only male athlete to have laid claim to all four of those titles, too.
What’s more, Wight has enjoyed success in wrestling’s tag team division, with a further 11 world champion titles to his name. He has earned the WCW, WWE and WWF World Tag Team Championships on numerous occasions and alongside a variety of partners. But that’s far from all.
You see, Wight has additionally claimed the Hardcore, the United States and Intercontinental championships. He also stormed to victory in WCW’s World War 3 event in 1996 as well as the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31 in 2015. And thanks to his impressive record, Wight has fronted a number of pay-per-view wrestling events.
Wight remains a goliath of the sport, too. As of 2019, he was still signed to WWE – 20 years after he first joined the entertainment company. But the icon seemingly hasn’t been content with merely chokeslamming opponents into submission. He’s also enjoyed success outside of the ring as an actor, bringing his huge frame to both the big and small screens.
Over the years, Wight has starred in a number of films, in fact, including the comedies The Waterboy and Jingle All the Way. Most notably, he has also appeared in the television series Star Trek: Enterprise, Psych, Royal Pains and Burn Notice.
Yet Wight has managed to carve out some time for a personal life, too, and to date he has been married twice. On Valentine’s Day 1997 he initially tied the knot with Melissa Ann Piavis, with the couple going on to have a daughter together. Wight and Piavis ultimately separated in 2000, however, and finalized their divorce two years later. That left the wrestler free to wed Bess Katramados in 2002, and the pair now have two children of their own.
Still, after making his name as the Big Show, Wight may have shocked his fans when he debuted an impressive new physique. You see, after being known as the “world’s largest athlete” for the majority of his career, the sports star had decided that the time had come to shed a few pounds – or 70, to be precise.
And Wight opened up about his weight loss journey in an interview published on the WWE website in 2017. In the article, the star revealed that his transformation was all down to a “conscious” effort on his part to overhaul what he described as “40 years of improper diet and improper training.”
In the piece, Wight explained, “I wanted to make a change, and I was given the time and opportunity to make a change, so I took advantage of it. I’ve worked a hard schedule for 22 years. Five days a week, 200-plus days a year on the road. With that time off, it was a chance for me to re-evaluate what I want to do with my future.”
In order to sculpt his new body, then, Wight employed Dodd Romero, who has helped a number of other celebrities and athletes get into shape. And while the wrestler found some of the Miami-based trainer’s methods a little unconventional, ultimately they appeared to work.
Wight told WWE, “We had a lot of unique opportunities between swimming, biking and weight training. And [Romero] put a lot of challenges in front of me that, at the time – I thought he was out of his damn mind, to tell you the truth. But there wasn’t one challenge he put in front of me that I wasn’t able to accomplish with some dedication and some discipline.”
Owing to a few existing injuries, Wight was unable to incorporate too much cardio into his new fitness regime, however. To slim down, then, he’d have to do it mostly through dieting – and this naturally meant giving up some of his favorite high-calorie junk foods.
Consequently, Wight revealed to WWE, “I’ve lost 70 pounds mainly through diet. I’ve done very little cardio because I’m dealing with hip injuries and knee injuries and rehabbing that. If I had to equate it, I’d say 90 percent of losing weight and losing body fat is all what you put in your face.”
And after shedding that fat, Wight possessed an impressively chiseled torso. Along with pecs of steel, he boasted bulging biceps and a ripped stomach that highlighted his toned abdominals. It didn’t take long for his wrestling buddies to notice his new look, either.
One of the first people to compliment Wight on his transformation, in fact, was apparently one of his fellow WWE wrestlers. The star revealed, “The biggest reaction so far is from John Cena. [He’s] always been a very committed athlete. [Cena] sets the bar pretty high for every Superstar, and I’m not just kissing his butt because he’s John Cena.”
Continuing to praise his co-star, Wight added, “Professionally, John Cena has my respect more than anybody I’ve ever been around in the ring and out of the ring. He’s a hell of an individual, and we were joking one day. We were talking about getting in shape and I said, ‘Ah, what the hell is a giant gonna do with abs?’”
Wight continued, “[Cena] looked at me with a straight face and said, ‘Yeah. A giant with abs. That wouldn’t be marketable at all.’ And he walked off. It was kind of a shot, but [later, he] reached out and congratulated me on the work I’ve done. That meant a lot. To have that respect from him was a big boost.”
In his conversation with WWE, Wight also said that he had always felt his wrestling buddies had been unwilling to share the secrets of their fitness success. However, following his own weight loss journey, he’d had a change of heart – not least because he now realized how individual the process of training could be.
Explaining what had worked for him, Wight said, “It took six to seven months of slowly eliminating things, doing research, finding out what I needed to eat [and] what nutritional products I needed, like pre-workouts and amino acids. It was a process for me, because everybody’s different.”
Wight added, “It’s funny. I used to ask guys who were in shape all the time, like Triple H, ‘What do you do?’ It was hard to get information out of them, and I understand why now. When you take the time and do the research, it’s more about what suits you – not what suits everybody.”
Wight then had some words of advice for those who may feel inspired to get into shape themselves. He told WWE, “That’s the thing I think people who want to make a serious commitment to changing their life should understand. You have to find out what works for you.”
The star told others that they needed to practice willpower, too. He revealed, “For me, it’s mental. Completely mental… If you get tired, you’re not gonna want to go to the gym, and you’re gonna have to make yourself go. Even if it’s 200 sit-ups. Or if you only do a couple sets of arms. Make yourself go. You’ll feel better.”
And given all of the effort that Wight had put in to get into great shape, he had no plans to scrap his new fitness regime. Describing his weekly routine to WWE, the wrestler said, “Right now my schedule’s pretty light, but if I’m home three days, I train every day. If I’m home ten days, I train every day. Right now, mostly, everything I count on is high-rep. Everything from 50 reps, 35 reps, 21 reps.”
Wight added that he intended to switch to a routine with a smaller amount of reps and heavier weights in the future in order to build more muscle. For the time being, though, his main focus was to shed fat, increase his strength and boost his metabolism. The champion elaborated, “Right now, we’re just trying to burn it up and keep it high-energy so the fat doesn’t have a chance to stick and grow.”
What’s more, while Wight now had every intention of staying in shape in the future, he nonetheless admitted that he had given up on his weight loss efforts in the past. This time, however, things were different, as he didn’t see his transformation as the result of a diet. Instead, he believed that he’d succeeded because of a complete lifestyle overhaul.
Indeed, Wight told the folks at WWE, “For me, the days of slammin’ ice cream and enjoying pizza and meatball subs are gone. I just have to choose. Do I want to be healthier, live longer and look better, or do I want to enjoy really good food all the time?”