Train, say your prayers, eat your vitamins. As a little kid in a rural town mesmerized like so many other boys my age by the larger than life characters of professional wrestling, Hulk Hogan's word was gospel.
Hogan was the ultimate good guy. He almost single-handedly transformed the industry of wrestling into the multi-million dollar business it is.
I literally remember in 1990 during the World Wrestling Federation's Royal Rumble seeing some of my friends break into tears when Hogan lost his title to the Ultimate Warrior. What happened to Hogan in the ring literally meant that much to kids. He was our super-hero.
It all sounds silly today. But as the years have worn on, so has Hogan's legacy. He cemented a television deal with VH1 for the show "Hogan Knows Best," where it appeared that Hogan led a relatively normal family life -at least comparatively to shows like "The Osbournes."
Unfortunately for Hogan, he has seen much better days.
Hogan and his ex-wife Linda divorced after more than 20 years of marriage and two children. One child, Nick, served an eight month prison stint after speeding and crashing his car leaving his passenger and friend in critical condition.
The other child, Brooke, who I personally interviewed for this paper in 2005, certainly seems to be as grounded as anyone in her situation can be. She rides her father's coattails, but is unashamed about it. She told the Salem News in '05, "I'm not trying to hide the fact that my father is Hulk Hogan. I love that, and I love him."
She's appeared in her own reality show "Brooke Knows Best" and has released albums and played numerous concerts with varying degrees of commercial success.
The tabloids have eaten Hogan alive. He hasn't exactly helped his cause, and certain words Hogan had with his son while he was incarcerated didn't exactly paint him in the best light.
Most recently, Hogan's ex-wife has taken liking a 20-year-old that went to the same school as Hogan's children.
It's a messy, sordid situation to say the least. Easily one of the messiest splits the media has seen in some time, and this week Hogan again didn't exactly think things through before speaking.
According to Rolling Stone, Hogan is livid, and rightfully so, that his ex-wife spends the money he earned at a rate of $40,000 a month dating "some shaggy-haired pool boy 30 years her junior."
After that, Hulk really needed a rep to do his speaking for him.
Hogan went on to tell the magazine, "I could have turned everything into a crime scene, like OJ, cutting everybody's throat. You live half a mile from the 20,000-square-foot home you can't go to anymore, you're driving through downtown Clearwater and see a 19-year-old boy driving your Escalade, and you know that a 19-year-old boy is sleeping in your bed, with your wife...I totally understand OJ. I get it."
I know. It sounds insane. But this guy has been through a ringer like no wrestling schedule could have ever put him through.
He shouldn't have brought up OJ. He really doesn't have an excuse for that, and I'm sure that he will be apologizing for it immensely in the coming weeks. It might cost him in his wallet as well. His rep issued a statement saying "Hulk in no way condones the O.J. situation. As part of a lager conversation, he referred to it to exemplify his frustration with his own situation."
What may have ultimately led to this is when Hulk allegedly saw pictures of his wife's 20-year-old boy toy naked in the shower wearing one of his title belts. If that's true, it's about as low as any one person can go.
Hogan supported his family. Hogan made choices for his family that he thought were in its best interest. Whether they were or not is debatable, but what absolutely is not is that Hogan was doing all he could to look out for his wife and children.
His home situation may not have been as great as it seemed, but it certainly didn't warrant what has happened since it fell apart.
Everything in Hogan's life looked picture perfect for so many years. Now when I see him or read about him, I just feel terrible for the guy.
Hogan is one of the most requested wishes of terminally ill children benefited by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He has supported the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Association.
Now because of all the negative publicity, he can't even do the out of the ring events that made him even more of a hero.
Literally, how the man is still standing is nothing short of a miracle.
Professional wrestling is entertainment, just like any sport. That Hogan's ex-wife and the tabloid media seem to be using Hulk's personal life as means for drama and entertainment is nothing short of disgusting and absurd. Hogan will certainly always support his children, and I'm not saying his wife doesn't deserve something in the divorce. But the level she has taken things, and the way the situation has spiraled out of control is just sickening.
Hopefully, things will get better for the Hulk soon.
E-mail B.J. Lisko at firstname.lastname@example.org