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Hulk Hogan out of WWE after racist comments surface via Gawker lawsuit

News broke today that the WWE has cut ties with its most recognizable personality: Hulk Hogan. The organization has moved swiftly to distance itself from the wrestler, stripping out all mentions of Hogan on the WWE website, removing all content from his dedicated page on that site, removing his merchandise from the WWE’s online store, and even taking his name off the list of judges for the company’s Tough Enough reality show.

This much is clear: The WWE is no longer in the Hulk Hogan business. The reasons for the break, however, are less obvious.

Multiple outlets have reported that his sacking stems from an October 2012 SirusXM radio interview with DJ Whoo Kid (below), during which he described an incident where Wrestler Booker T accidentally used the N-word in reference to Hulk Hogan.

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“Well, Booker T used to do that to me, and every time I pull up YouTube there’s that famous thing with Booker T and his brother is there and they’re all talking trash, and Booker T says, ‘I’m coming for ya Hogan, you n***er’—and not ‘n***a,’ he goes ‘n***er,’” said Hogan to Whoo Kid.

The wrestler went on to explain that rappers he’d befriended used the word to refer to him, and that he had used it in the past and was only recently starting to catch any heat over it. Hogan also said he was confused as to why African Americans could use the word and he couldn’t.

The fact that the biggest star in the history of WWE would be fired for statements made three years ago is hard to reconcile, given the facts on the surface.

However, when Hogan apologized for the incidents that led to his firing in the statement below, released to People on Friday, things got much more interesting:

“Eight years ago I used offensive language during a conversation,” he said. “It was unacceptable for me to have used that offensive language; there is no excuse for it; and I apologize for having done it. This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise.”

Notice that he says he used the offensive language eight years ago, though the interview in question took place less than three years ago. It’s unlikely he’d make such a careless error in an official statement. The more likely scenario is that the interview is not thin incident for which Hogan (real name Terry Gene Bolloa) was apologizing.

As it turns out, the National Enquirer is reporting that the WWE’s decision to cut ties with the wrestler was due to the organization’s knowledge of volatile racist comments that he made on a court-sealed audio clip from a sex tape, which is currently the subject of a $100 million lawsuit the wrestler has filed against Gawker Media.

If the facts are being reported correctly, these comments are truly abhorrent and far worse than anything on the SiriusXM recording.

Since this recording is reportedly pulled from court-sealed documents, and we take anything the National Enquirer reports with a large grain of salt, we’re not going to reprint the transcript or link to the piece. Just know that it looks like the full story behind Hogan’s firing is much deeper, and if the Enquirer’s report is true, much more insidious. We’ll keep you posted with any updates.