This is the third in a five-part series looking at the 2018 inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame. The first on Hillbilly Jim and the second on Ivory and is on Wrestleaholic.com so check it out. Today we will be looking at “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry. Although Henty started as one of the WWE’s greatest busts, he turned himself around and became a superstar.
Mark Jerrold Henry was born on June 12, 1971, in Silsbee, Tx. By the time Henry was in the fourth grade, he was 5’5″ and weighed 225 lb, his mother bought him a set of weights when he was 10 and by his freshman year was able to squat 600 lbs. When Henry finished high school he had state and national records in all 4 powerlifting categories.Though weightlifting and powerlifting are considered separate skills Henry was able to break 4 weightlifting records after only 8 months of training.
At the age of only 19, Henry competed in the 1992 Olympics coming in tenth.He started focusing solely on weightlifting and by the Pan-American Games in 1995, Henry won a gold, silver, and bronze medal.
Having accomplished so much in weightlifting, Henry returned to powerlifting, later in 1995, setting records in 3 separate categories.
Henry was the captain of the 1996 Olympic weightlifting team, however, a back injury prevented him from doing well and he signed with the WWE, his future in doubt. The WWE signed him to a 10-year contract one of the longest at the time. His career had a difficult start while feuding with Jerry Lawler, a broken leg derailed his momentum.
In 1998 Henry returned with Farooq, The Rock, Kama Mustafa, and D’Lo Brown as the Nation of Domination. After the Rock took control of the nation, Henry sided with his faction. The Nation disbanded in late 1998 but Henry continued to team with Brown with Ivory as their manager.
In 1999 Henry rebranded himself as “Sexual Chocolate.” He also turned on his friend D’lo Brown helping Jeff Jarrett win the Intercontinental and European belts. As a reward, Jarrett gave Henry his first title, The European Championship, which he would lose back to Brown later in the year. Through 2000, Henry was trapped in a horrible sex addiction, Mae Young lover, father of a hand storyline. The less said about this the better.
In 2001 Henry took a year off from wrestling after the death of his mother. He felt he owed it to her to compete in strongman competitions as she bought him his first weight set. On February 22, 2002, Henry won the “World Strongest Man” competition in Canton, Ohio. Fulfilling, as he saw it, his mother’s dream for him.
In 2002 Henry returned on Smackdown but found little success. He did better in 2003, in a race angle, as part of “Thuggin and Buggin Enterprises” led by Teddy Long. In 2004, Henry tore his quadriceps muscle and was out for another year.
In 2005, Henry returned and feuded with Batista over the world heavyweight title. Although he did not win it, this was as much success as he had found thus far. Henry feuded with Kurt Angle over the world title and faced the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 22 in a failed attempt to end the streak.
In 2006 Henry started what was called his “path of destruction,” injuring Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero. This was supposed to culminate with Batista’s return and revenge but Henry split the patella in his knee requiring surgery.
Henry returned in 2007 to a long feud with the Undertaker which was largely unsuccessful. In 2008 Henry was drafted to ECW where he quickly won the ECW title from Kane and Big Show. It had been almost 10 years since Henry’s last singles title win. Tony Atlas was briefly Henry’s manager but couldn’t stop him from losing the title to Matt Hardy. Henry attempted to win the title through most of 2008 and the start of 2009.
From 2009-2011 Henry concentrated mostly on tag team work forming teams with MVP, Evan Bourne, and Yoshi Tatsu. In 2011, Henry began inducting people into his “Hall of Pain” by injuring them. This started with the Big Show but continued with Kane, Vladimir Kozlov, and The Great Khali. The peak of this streak was winning the World Heavyweight title from Randy Orton becoming the 5th African-American to win the title. Henry lost the title to the Big Show but would be in the world title picture until mid- 2012 when Henry announced he would need another surgery.
Henry returned in 2013 feuding with a number of faces including John Cena after a fake retirement speech. This is largely believed to be Henry’s most successful promo in his career. Henry continued to wrestle until his “true retirement” at Wrestlemania 33 although he never won another title.
Mark Henry only won 3 titles in his career. Nevertheless, his impact on pro wrestling will never be forgotten.