In a quest to rebuild his severely damaged image, former WWE employee and legend Hulk Hogan has angered some of his old neighbors with recent comments on Good Morning America, via WTSP Tampa Bay.
The 62-year-old Hogan was fired from the WWE amid leaked audio that depicted him using several racial slurs. Not only did WWE remove all mention of him from their website, he has been removed from the WWE Hall of Fame, as well.
In his defense, Hogan told Good Morning America (via Yahoo) that his usage of those slurs was a product of his upbringing in the Tampa Bay area.
“I would say that is very fair. The… the environment I grew up in in south Tampa and all my white friends, all my black friends, to hear the word on a daily basis when they’d greet me in the morning, that’s what they’d say to me, ‘Good morning,’ so-and-so. I think that was part of the culture and the environment I grew up in and I think that’s fair to say.”
However, several neighbors who grew up with Hogan in the Tampa Bay area have taken umbrage with the “Hulkster” and his claims.
In particular, Linda Bryant, a former neighbor that grew up with Hogan in Tampa, disagrees with the aforementioned claims. Bryant says that the n-word was not a part of neighborhood’s lexicon when they were younger. Referring to Hogan by his real name, Terry Bollea, Bryant reveals that Hogan was a role model to that neighborhood at one point and has let them all down.
“That was not the culture when Terry grew up here. Terry was the first guy to ever be a role model for this neighborhood and he had the kids wrapped around his finger. He had the biggest fan base you ever could imagine and he did nothing with it.”
To further the point, another neighbor, who is not named in the story, says that his kids grew up near Hogan. And while he does agree with Hogan in that the neighborhood was poor at one point, the racial slurs were never a part of it.
“There was a time this area was poor but we didn’t say that word. My daughters not like that. My sons not like that.”
Repairing his image is not the only battle Hogan is facing. Currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Gawker over a leaked sex tape, Hogan’s name will likely continue to surface in the public eye. But as said by another unnamed neighbor, Hogan will have to own up to his mistakes instead of looking for things, places, and people to blame.
“If you said it then own it.”
[Image by Paul Kane/Getty Images]