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Meet the pro wrestler who was the inspiration for Shrek

The title character in the computer-animated fantasy-comedy Shrek was inspired by professional wrestler Maurice Tillet.

This article is part of an ongoing effort by MixedMartialArts.com to understand what really works. The focus is not on what happens in the arena, but rather, what happens on the street. And once in a while, we do something way off track, like this.

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Maurice Tillet was born on 23 April 1903 in Russia, and was such a beautiful boy he was given a nickname - The Angel.

Maurice Tillet

At 14, he and his mother fled the Russian revolution, to France. At 20 he noticed an odd swelling of his hands and feet.

He was diagnosed with acromegaly. The disease is generally caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland, causing an excess growth hormone. If contracted at a young age, the cause result is gigantism. Tillet was full grown at the onset of acromegaly, so his body started to thicken.

He had hoped to become an attorney, but his condition prevented it. Tillet served in the French Navy for five years, including on a submarine. At age 33 he was in Singapore, and there met Lithuanian pro wrestler Karl Pojello (Karolis Požėla), who convinced him to join the squared circle. The pair worked in France for a couple of years before WWII drove them to the USA. Tillet became a notable draw, becoming the world champion of Montreal and the world champion of Boston, twice; he went undefeated for 19 straight months at one point.

Tillet's popularity spun off imitators, including fellow acromegaly sufferer Paul Olaffsen (Swedish Angel). There was also the Russian Angel Tony Angelo, Super Swedish Angel Tor Johnson, Canadian Angel Jack Rush, Polish Angel Wladislaw Tulin, Czech Angel Stan Pinto, Irish Angel Clive Welsh, Golden Angel Jack Falk, Black Angel Gil Guerrero, and Lady Angel Jean Noble.

By the end of WWII Tillet's health began to fail, and he passed away from heart disease on 4 September 1954, in Chicago. His remains are interred at Lithuanian National Cemetery in Justice, Illinois.

However, several years before his death, he made the acquaintance of Chicago sculptor Louis Linck, who created a series of plaster busts commemorating his wrestling career.

Maurice Tillet

These busts, and a number of images of the wrestler, are widely and credibly credited with being the inspiration for the title character in the computer-animated fantasy-comedy Shrek.

They're virtually identical.

Maurice Tillet
Maurice Tillet
Maurice Tillet
Maurice Tillet
Maurice Tillet
Maurice Tillet
Maurice Tillet
Maurice Tillet
Maurice Tillet
Maurice Tillet
Maurice Tillet

Next: 9 all-time most embarrassing fight photos