Like most people, I thought everyone’s favorite talking ogre, one of the most memorable fictional characters in recent years, was just that: a fictional character. But peel back some of Shrek’s onion-like layers and you’ll discover that he was actually inspired by an extraordinary real life man named Maurice Tillet.
Unless you’ve been living in a swamp, you’ll be familiar with Shrek’s fantastical tale of fire-breathing dragons, sword-wielding felines and wise-cracking donkeys, but very few know the incredible real life story of Maurice, who’s even more fascinating than the mythological character he inspired! Read on and you’ll find that his similarities to Shrek go far beyond his physical appearance…
Tillet was born a completely ordinary boy
Born in the remote Ural Mountains in Russia, Maurice started life with none of the physical attributes he would eventually become famous for. As a child he earned the nickname ‘The Angel’ because of his beautifully angelic appearance.
As a teenager he began to notice unusual changes in his body
And not the kinds of changes usually associated with puberty. At 17, Tillet’s hands, feet and head began to swell to disproportionate sizes, prompting doctors to diagnose him with acromegaly; a condition often caused by benign tumors that accelerate bone growth.
He became a renowned wrestling champion in France
Best known by his ring name ‘The French Angel,’ Maurice became a two-time world heavyweight champion, wrestling undefeated for 19 consecutive months! You can watch the Angel in action below:
Due to his formidable presence and extraordinary appearance, Tillet attracted huge crowds who considered him unstoppable. But in 1939 he found himself fleeing conflict once again, leaving for the United States during the Second World War. –MORE–