Andre the Giant was such a physically imposing man, but no one really knows just how tough he was because few ever dared to challenge him. Blackjack Mulligan was a giant in his own right, and unlike Andre, proved how tough he was through countless bar fights. If the two ever faced off against each other, all Hell would break loose.
Fight: Andre the Giant vs Blackjack Mulligan
Location: Manny Fernandez’s apartment in Amarillo, TX
Source: Is Wrestling Fixed? Podcast with Bill Apter
Manny Fernandez grew up an angry young man who was always getting into fights. But as tough as he thought he was, he knew he was no match for the man who got him started in wrestling, Dick Murdoch, and one of his early mentors, the gigantic Blackjack Mulligan. Mulligan was a big star in the 1960s and 1970s, and is the father of Barry Windham.
Since Manny was just starting out, he would often do some of the grunt work for the boys. In this case, he was told to pick up Andre the Giant from the Amarillo airport. At the time, Manny didn’t know much about Andre or how big he truly was. When he saw Andre at the airport, he thought, “How in the Hell is this guy gonna fit in my tiny Trans-Am??”
Manny approached Andre and told him he was there to pick him up. Andre replied, “OK boss,” which is what he called everybody in his inner circle. They were on a 70-mile trek through Lubbock, TX, but Andre first asked to go to a liquor store in Amarillo. He came out of the store with a case of beer and a fifth (1/5 of a gallon) of tequila.
Andre drank everything by the time they got to the show (the future Baby Doll was the ticket taker). Manny thought Andre was for sure going to be drunk, but instead he got up and walked out of the car just fine, not even buzzed at all. And he had a good match that night to boot.
After the show, Manny had to drive Andre the Giant, Dick Murdoch, and Blackjack Mulligan back to Amarillo. In Manny’s tiny Trans-Am car.
Murdoch was about 260 pounds, as was Manny. Mulligan was a whopping 390. Manny claimed Andre was almost 500 pounds, but that was a little exaggerated since Andre was in better shape back then, but still well over 400 pounds. So that’s almost 1,500 pounds in a small car, AND they had three cases of beer and two fifths of tequila. And they drank it all.
While we’d all love to hear a blow by blow account of what happened, unfortunately there are no details. And everyone who saw it is no longer alive.
The way Manny told the story, they got to his apartment and were playing Cribbage. This was Andre’s favorite card game, and between his passion for the game and the fact they were all liquored up, things got heated. Before long, Andre and Blackjack Mulligan got into a big argument.
Manny remembered Mulligan punching Andre. Andre then said, “We fight now, boss.” Manny thought, “Holy crap, it’s time for me to get the heck out of dodge.” He was afraid of these two giants going at it, especially in such a small space. He didn’t make it clear if he left the room or not, but he offered no details other than they started hitting each other.
While it wasn’t a knockdown, drag out bloodbath, it was still wild enough that they did $1,800 worth of damage to Manny’s apartment. Today that would probably translate to almost $5,000 worth of damage, which is huge for an apartment of that size.
My own belief is that it was more horseplay than a fight, but it would be unfair to categorize it exclusively as one or the other. Too violent to be horseplay, and not violent enough to be a full-on fight. If it were really a fight, we’d have heard a lot more about it over the years. Still, even a playful blow from either Andre or Mulligan would be enough to do damage to most human beings.
Part II – Beach Brawl
There was another incident between Blackjack Mulligan and Andre the Giant in 1976, although we don’t know if it took place before or after the fight mentioned above.
Ric Flair told a story on a few different podcasts of a time when he was with Mulligan, Andre, and Dick Murdoch in Virginia Beach, VA. The four of them were at a bar, sitting on the deck in the back, and presumably a few other wrestlers were there too. This was back when Mulligan and Andre were considerably younger, more athletic, and tougher.
It’s not known what may have caused the tension between Mulligan and Andre, but Flair said Mulligan had the shortest temper in the world. Mulligan looked at over at Murdoch (who was also very tough) and said, “Watch this,” and suckerpunched Andre.
Andre, who was sitting in a chair, got up and grabbed both Mulligan and Murdoch by their shirt collars. He dragged them both out to the beach and started drowning them both. He never intended to drown them, but tried (and succeeded) to scare them to death. Flair said he was so scared that he watched it all while walking backwards, so that Andre wouldn’t grab him either.
Keep in mind Mulligan was only an inch or two shorter than Andre, but Andre was at least 100 pounds heavier and exponentially stronger. Murdoch was no slouch, either.
It’s believed these are the only two times Andre was ever challenged, at least that we know of. Bad News Allen did challenge him once, but it never got physical. Another time at WrestleMania II one of the NFL players was thinking about challenging him too (after Andre told him he talked too much), but was talked out of it by other wrestlers who told him it’d be wise if he didn’t. There was also the time a match between Andre and Akira Maeda that turned into a half shoot, but Andre was much older by then and he wasn’t even really trying to finish him.