Hulk Hogan has been given a “second chance” by World Wrestling Entertainment, reclaiming his spot in the organization’s Hall of Fame three years since being booted after audio leaked of him using racial slurs.
“After a three-year suspension, Hulk Hogan has been reinstated into the WWE Hall of Fame,” the professional wrestling company said in a statement Sunday. “This second chance follows Hogan’s numerous public apologies and volunteering to work with young people, where he is helping them learn from his mistake.”
The WWE had abruptly severed ties with Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, after audio leaked in July 2015 of the former professional wrestler repeatedly using the N-word during a private conversation caught on tape. All instances of his name were scrubbed afterwards from the WWE’s website, including its online Hall of Fame, and his contract with the company terminated.
“I’ve been praying for this day and I finally feel like I made it back home,” Mr. Bollea told his Twitter followers Sunday of being reinstated.
WWE has not signed the wrestler to any type of contract at this time, the company told CBS Sports.
Mr. Bollea, 64, began working for the company now known as WWE in the late 1970s, and he served as the organization’s star performer during professional wrestling’s meteoric rise to mainstream success during the following decade, earning acting roles in the interim in films including 1982’s “Rocky III,” among others. His bout during the inaugural Wrestlemania in 1985 was the event’s headlining match, and he was ultimately inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.
The wrestler’s racist comments appeared in a controversial sex tape that was partially published in 2012 by the gossip website Gawker. Mr. Bollea sued over the sex tape’s publication, and Gawker ultimately settled in 2016 for $31 million, which bankrupted the website and spurred its shuttering.
“It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it,” Mr. Bollea previously said after the audio emerged.