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Hulk Hogan: “I’m not in the same place I was 13 years ago, that’s not who I am.”

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When Hulk Hogan walked out to a chorus of cheers on WWE’s Monday Night Raw on January 7, it was something that, just a few years ago, might have seemed far from a possibility. The moment, Hogan tells PEOPLE, was “unbelievable.”

 

Hogan’s segment on the show — which honored legendary wrestling announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund, who died on January 2 — marked his first appearance on the program since March 2015, after a leaked audio recording from a 2006 sex tape revealed he had used the “n-word” multiple times and referred to himself as a “racist” while discussing his daughter’s dating life.

WWE Diva ‘Not happy’ With Hulk Hogan

After the audio went public, the WWE — the company where Hogan became a household name in the 1980s — removed him from the Hall of Fame, its promotional materials and products.

In the years that followed, Hogan made numerous showings to apologize, most notably on The View and during his Hall of Fame induction speech at the Boys & Girls Club in May 2018.

That time has been one of reflection, he tells PEOPLE exclusively. “People are all human and they make mistakes, so it’s about forgiving people and learning and growing,” Hogan — whose real name is Terry Bollea — says.

Hulk Hogan vince McMahon

“I’m definitely not in the same place I was 12 or 13 years ago, you know, when I said such stupid words, what came out of my head. That’s not who I am.”

The WWE noted these public apologies, and Hogan’s volunteer work, in their statement declaring their decision to reinstate him into the Hall of Fame after a three-year hiatus in July 2018.




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