Former WWE performer Jorge González (a/k/a Giant González), the tallest grappler in professional wrestling history, passed away Wednesday in San Martin, Argentina due to complications from diabetes, reports Argentinian news outlets Impulso Baires and Minutouno. He was 44 years old.
Sources from González’ hometown, El Colorado, confirm that he was taken to San Martin after “suffering a decompensation.” He later passed.
González had been suffering from poor health in recent years due to the effects of his long battle with diabetes as he used a dialysis machine to treat kidney failure and was wheelchair bound. He was scheduled to return to the United States in May 2010 for an appearance at the “Legends of the Ring” wrestling convention in Monroe, New Jersey, but ultimately canceled due to health concerns.
González was a basketball star in Argentina before being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the third round of the 1988 NBA Draft. When his NBA career didn’t pan out, Jim Herd and Jim Ross spearheaded the Turner organization to sign the 7’7″ giant to a wrestling contract. After a year of training, he was introduced to fans as “El Gigante” on May 19, 1990 at the WCW pay-per-view, Capital Combat. He enjoyed a two-year run as a fan favorite before leaving the promotion in 1992.
González then joined the World Wrestling Federation and debuted as “Giant González” at the 1993 Royal Rumble, where he eliminated The Undertaker from the Rumble match despite not being an official participant. The move laid the foundation for a rivalry that lasted the length of Gonzalez’ WWF career as he parted ways with the company shortly after being put to rest in a “Rest in Peace Match” at the 1993 SummerSlam.
González continued wrestling in Japan before retiring in 1995 due to sciatic nerve pain. He returned to Argentina to settle in his hometown, where he had been living since 1998.
González is the fourth former WWE talent to pass away within the past seven weeks, following Lance Cade, Luna Vachon and Mike Shaw (a/k/a Bastion Booger).