Wrestler Spotlight – Mark Henry

Mark Henry World Heavyweight Champion

Mark Jerrold Henry was born on June 12th, 1971 in Silsbee, Texas. As a child, Mark was a big fan of wrestling, and considered Andre The Giant to be his favorite wrestler (makes sense). In fact, as a youngster, Mark Henry attended a wrestling show in Beaumont in which Andre was on the card for. As he was walking down the isle, Mark tried to touch his favorite wrestler, but instead, he tripped and fell over the barricade. So, Andre simply picked him up and placed him back on the other side of the barricade.

When he was twelve, Mark lost his father to diabetes. Two years later, he was diagnosed with dyslexia. Another few years after that, Mark’s football career was brought to an end. He was a senior in high school, and managed to strain some ligaments in his wrist. That, and scoring below 700 on his SAT was the one-two punch that successfully took Mark off of the gridiron.

Okay, now it’s time to get into the crazy stuff – Mark Henry’s powerlifting career. For starters, did you know that in the fourth grade, Mark was 5’5 and weighed 225 pounds. His mother bought him his first set of weights when he was 10. Holy. Hell. That must’ve been a terrifying child.

“Mark, if you don’t sit down, I’m going to-”

“WHAT?!?! YOU’RE GOING TO WHAT?!?!”

“Get you a snack. You want a snack, man? Maybe a candy bar? How you feeling? Your blood sugar’s okay? I’m sorry I got snippy back there. I didn’t mean it.”

NOTE: Obviously, that scene ends with 4th grade Mark Henry hitting a World’s Strongest Slam on his cowardly teacher.

During his freshman year in high school, Mark could already squat 600 pounds, which was well above his school’s record. As an 18 year-old, Henry was called “the world’s strongest teenager” by the Los Angeles Times. In 1990, he made various headlines for winning the National High School Powerlifting Championships and setting teenage lifting world records.

By the time he finished high school, the future Sexual Chocolate was a three-time Texas state Champion with state and national records in all four powerlifting categories: the squat at 832 pounds, bench press at 525 pounds, deadlift at 815 pounds, and a total of 2,033 pounds. This is 18 year-old Mark Henry we’re talking about. When he was 25, his deadlift went up to 903.9 pounds, and his squat went up to 948 pounds.

Here’s a picture of Mark Henry pushing a tank. You know, to really bring home how strong the man is.

Mark Henry
You can’t tell if he’s really pushing it, but you also don’t doubt it, do you? (Courtesy of Wikipedia.com)

If you’re interested in more facts concerning Mark Henry’s powerlifting career, then click HERE, because it’s time we move on to his wrestling career. It began in 1996, at the young age of 24. He signed a ten year contract, not long after competing in the ’96 olympics. Henry made his first appearance on the March 11th, 1996 episode of Monday Night Raw, where he press slammed Jerry Lawler, who was supposed to be interviewing him, but instead, was ridiculing him.

The King was actually Mark Henry’s first feud in the WWE. He wrestled his first match against the legend at the WWE PPV, In Your House: Mind Games. It wasn’t the best match, but it did enough to showcase Mark’s power to the WWE Universe. He kept going for a little while after that, until he sustained an injury that took him out of action.

The WWE used this as their opportunity to send Mark back to training for a little bit. He reappeared on WWE programming in December 1997, and has been a regular fixture, ever since.

On January 12th, 1998, Mark Henry joined The Nation of Domination, along with Farooq, The Rock, Kama Mustafa, and D’Lo Brown. Thanks to The Rock, this is one of the legendary factions of The Attitude Era. See, when Rock joined, nobody really liked him. He was still dealing with the “Die Rocky, Die” chants. That’s actually why he joined – it was Rocky Maivia’s heel turn.

As time went on, more and more people realized how good Rocky was on the microphone, and the crowd started to turn. The WWE Universe started to fall in love with The Rock. All of that was worked into the storyline, and over time, The Great One worked to usurp Farooq’s spot as the leader of the NoD. Eventually, it worked, and the faction splintered. Mark Henry chose to go with The Rock. That didn’t last long, either, as The Brahma Bull was no longer in need of a faction.

From there, D’Lo and Mark ended up forming a team. Eventually, however, Mark turned on D’Lo, and completely shattered any remnants of The Nation. This is when the solid gold comes in. We’ve reached the era of Sexual Chocolate.

This is my favorite portion of Mark Henry’s career. It was hilarious. It started when Mark attended a therapy session for his sex addiction. While there, he revealed that he lost his virginity to his sister at eight years-old, and that he had slept with her two days earlier.

It was madness from that point on. The culmination came when Mae Young, the elderly woman, gave birth to Henry’s child on camera. Keep in mind, this was all obviously part of the storyline. That doesn’t make it any less ridiculous, though. Especially when you consider that all Mae was able to push out, was a single, white hand. Nothing more, nothing less.

Gross.

Now, despite his very long run, Mark has not seen too much gold wrapped around his waist. There was the ECW Championship, which came when WWE was in full control of the promotion. That was cool, and well deserved. He also won the European Championship back when he turned on D’Lo Brown (that was actually his reward for doing so).

However, none of that compares to the third and final title that he won: the World Heavyweight Championship. This was Mark Henry’s best run in the company. So much so, it was even immortalized as DLC for WWE 2K15.

At this time, Mark was curator, and sole operator of the Hall of Pain. He was destroying people on the reg. It didn’t matter who got in his way. The World’s Strongest Man was angry. He had been overlooked for years, and it was time for him to change that with the big gold belt. The same one carried by legends such as Sting, Ric Flair, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, and many others.

The video above is Mark Henry’s crowning achievement. I think most fans will agree that they were happy for him. As Michael Cole says on commentary, it was a 15 year journey. He worked his ass off for a decade and a half, all to reach that moment, and hold that title above his head (as seen in the featured image).

Nowadays, Mark is floating around, aimlessly. He’s still gainfully employed, though. He’s on WWE television often. In fact, our very own Mr. X recently chose a spot pulled off by him and Kevin Owens as the best moment of RAW.

Having said that – his career has to be winding down. After all, he is reaching his 20th year as a WWE superstar. If that day comes soon, I hope Mark realizes that he will forever have the respect, and love of the WWE Universe.

FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Courtesy of WWE.com.

Joseph Finnegan
finnegan.joseph@yahoo.com