Arrow-right Camera



Vanilla Gorilla turns heads

The biggest character ever to grace Hoopfest? It’s no contest.

When he turned up for Hoopfest 1993, Ron Reis stood 7-feet-2 and weighed 350 pounds. He’d played basketball – and well – at Santa Clara and overseas in Portugal and Holland, but was already embarking on a new vocation:

Big John Studd’s protégé in the wild world of pro wrestling.

At the time, Reis was calling himself the Vanilla Gorilla “from Parts Unknown. Actually, from the wrong side of Parts Unknown.” In a career that would extend beyond a decade in the old WCW and rasslin’ parts unknown, he would variously be billed as The Yeti, The Super Giant Ninja, Big Ron Studd, Reese, Big Bomb Jones and, finally, Evil.

Why wrestling?

“I can’t find skates big enough for the roller derby,” he said.

Turned out Hoopfest was better training for the ring than he could have imagined. In a game on Sunday, former Whitworth star Randy Smith took a swing at him – trying, Smith said, “to get in his head a little. I wasn’t dumb, though – I was backing up.”

Tags: Hoopfest