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5 Things You Didn't Know About Gorilla Monsoon 

WWE Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon
WWE Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon

Bruce Prichard recently took to his Something to Wrestle podcast to co-host Conrad Thompson about late WWE Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon.

Prichard opened up about his late friend, whom he referred to as one of the best guys in the history of the wrestling business.

While wrestling fans may remember Monsoon as a Hall of Fame announcer, he was also a world-class professional wrestler and an even better family man.

Prichard revealed several things about Monsoon that many wrestling fans will find both interesting and surprising.

Join us and enjoy 5 Things You Didn't Know About Gorilla Monsoon.


#5 Gorilla Monsoon Was An All American Athlete

Gorilla Monsoon - All American
Gorilla Monsoon - All American

Born Robert Marella, Gorilla Monsoon grew to be a massive man. During his WWE wrestling career, he weighed over 400 pounds.

While he was a Hall of Fame WWE Superstar, it was difficult to imagine that a man of his physique could be an All American athlete, but that is exactly what Monsoon was in his earlier years.

Bruce Prichard elaborated, "He was what you would call a stud back in the day." Monsoon was an All American wrestler and a star collegiate athlete at Ithaca college, where he carved a legacy for himself and became known as one of the great heavyweight collegiate wrestlers in the school's history.

Monsoon excelled at Ithaca and became a stellar student. Marella would make the dean's list and graduate with a degree in physical education.

Monsoon came in 2nd place in the 1959 NCAA collegiate wrestling championships and held an Ithaca school record for the fastest pin ever.

Monsoon pinned his unlucky opponent in a mere 18 seconds. Monsoon was also considered for the 1960 United States Olympic team.

Monsoon left amateur wrestling for the more financially lucrative world of professional wrestling, where his amateur wrestling background earned him the title of 'shooter,' i.e. a wrestler that could legitimately tie an opponent up into a pretzel.

#4 Monsoon Was An Avid Gambler

Gorilla Monsoon Billed From Manchuria
Gorilla Monsoon Billed From Manchuria

Bruce Prichard describes his late friend, Gorilla Monsoon, as a gambling addict. Prichard elaborated on what it was like to go to the casino with Monsoon,

"He was the guy that taught me, 'You want to win money, you've got to bet money.' He'd bet a lot of money, lose a lot of money, and win a lot of money."

Prichard claims that Monsoon was truly in his element at a casino, but also remembers Monsoon losing as much as $70,000 in one sitting, over a period of several hours.

Monsoon lost the money playing his favorite game of blackjack. According to Prichard,

"He would sit in the high rollers setting by himself. He would play three or four hands on blackjack and each game, he would have three or four he would bet on. He just sat there by himself and he would play non-stop."

Monsoon would only stop when his wife would interrupt to let him know that it was time to eat. While the gambling could be risky, Prichard also notes that Monsoon did well with his money and was able to save most of it. He also remembers a time when Monsoon won $50,000 in one sitting.

#3 Monsoon Was Once Part Owner Of WWE

The late great Gorilla Monsoon
The late great Gorilla Monsoon

Vince McMahon Sr., had one request to make of his son when he took over the WWE and that was that Vince Jr. would take care of Gorilla Monsoon and Arnold Skaaland.

Both men were employed with the WWE, in one form or another, until the time of their passing. Even if they had no actual duties, Vince Jr. kept the promise he made to his father, and the two were still paid.

Monsoon had once owned 20% of the WWE, a move orchestrated by Vince McMahon, Sr, after the passing of former WWE co-owner Joe 'Toots' Mondt. Monsoon's part ownership allowed him to become one of the main decision makers in the professional wrestling business.

Monsoon developed an unflattering nickname for the young McMahon. When 'Little Vinny' took over the company in 1984, Monsoon enjoyed a massive payoff and regular quarterly payments that lasted until his death in 1999.

If McMahon didn't make those 'exorbitant' payments, control of the company would revert back to the company's previous owners, including Gorilla Monsoon.

Prichard describes Monsoon as 'shocked' that he received every single penny that was ever promised to him, including huge balloon payments after the very first WrestleMania.

#2 Monsoon & Bobby Heenan Were Like Brothers

Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan

Wrestling fans will remember Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan as dueling announcers for WWE pay-per-views and classic vintage wrestling shows like Prime Time Wrestling.

While the two played diametrically opposed foes on television, in real life they were actually quite fond of one another and shared an inseparable bond. The two became real life brothers.

The Heenan Family and The Monsoon Family would often vacation with one another. Bobby Heenan's daughter referred to Monsoon as, "Uncle Gorilla."

According to Prichard,

"They were as close as two people could be. They loved each other like brothers and took care of each other."

When Heenan left WWE for WCW, the two men were emotionally overcome by having to part ways.

Prichard remembers one of the saddest moments of his life at Monsoon's funeral in 1999. After everyone left, Bobby Heenan refused to leave Monsoon's graveside and stayed alone there, while he sorted out his emotions.

Prichard described the wrestling media as having 'no regard for that love and that moment.' When they were finally finished callously snapping pictures and taking video, an emotionally distraught Heenan laid into them.

When Bobby Heenan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004, his only wish was that Gorilla Monsoon was there to enjoy the moment with him.

#1 His Son's Death Drastically Altered His Life

Gorilla Monsoon and Family
Gorilla Monsoon and Family

Gorilla Monsoon's adopted son, Joey Marella, served as a WWE referee in the '80s and '90s. Tragically, Marella passed away on July 4, 1994.

While driving home from a WWE live event in Ocean City, Maryland, Marella fell asleep on the New Jersey Turnpike.

He wasn't wearing a seat belt and was killed after crashing his car. He was only 31 years old.

Marella's tragic and premature death changed Gorilla Monsoon from that day forward.

According to Bruce Prichard, there was a big part of Monsoon that was just missing, "A big piece of him died the day Joey died."

An emotional Bruce Prichard described Monsoon's mental health heading toward a state of decline.

Monsoon did not want any funeral guests to leave and insisted that they stay as long as possible. Prichard recalls it being difficult to leave him in such a state.

Monsoon proceeded to let his physical health go after Marella's death. For a diabetic that was already dangerously overweight, this proved to be deadly.

Prichard describes it in the following, "I think he stopped caring in a lot of respects."

Monsoon passed away on October 6, 1999 due to heart failure brought on from complications with diabetes. He was only 62 years old.

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Edited by Israel Lutete
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