Based on William Steig‘s 1990s fairy tale of the same name, the character of Shrek is said to be inspired by Maurice Tillet, a wrestler who lived in the early 1900s and suffered from acromegaly, a chronic syndrome.
Tillet developed this disease in his youth which leads to off-scale tissue growth due to excess growth hormone. Born in the Urals to French parents, Tillet moved to Reims in France during the revolution.
But at the age of 17, problems begin for him. Not only gigantism in the nose, head, and hands, but also pains such as migraines, arthritis, and diabetes. Despite everything, however, Tillet enlists in the French navy, and during one of his trips he meets Carl Pojello, a professional wrestler who convinces him to enter the ring.
Thus he abandons the dream of becoming an actor and embraces that of a wrestler. At the beginning of the Second World War he began his career in the United States, fighting until his death at the age of 51.
A man with a big heart who loved animals and even had a donkey. Nicknamed ‘French Angel’, the champion has become a legend and even if the authors of Shrek have never confirmed that they were inspired by him, the resemblance is there and it is clear.
Mainly because many in the ring called him an ‘ogre’. Physical appearance, nickname, a donkey for a friend, how can you not think of Shrek? And just like the animated character, Tillet was seen as a monster, but in reality, he was a warrior of life, a man who despite the difficulties, did not give up, reaching the finish line.
Tillet’s story is a life lesson because it is that of a person who has learned to accept himself and be himself, even if far from the standards imposed by society.
At some point, he stopped thinking about what others saw in him, living better in that body where he probably didn’t find himself. Each of us has the duty and the right to improve ourselves, but we must also accept ourselves in order not to be trapped by imaginary fears. Only in this way can the green ogre save his princess Fiona.
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