Eric Esch, better known by his nickname “Butterbean”, is a retired professional boxer, kickboxer, mixed martial artist, and professional wrestler who competed in the heavyweight division. He is also a television personality, having appeared in several programs and been referenced by many others.
Esch became a professional boxer in 1994 after a successful stint on the Toughman Contest scene and went on to capture the World Athletic Association (WAA) heavyweight and IBA super heavyweight championships, also going the distance against Larry Holmes. From 2003, he regularly fought as a kickboxer and mixed martial artist, notably in K-1 and the Pride Fighting Championships. Butterbean’s combined fight record is 97–24–5 with 67 knockouts and 10 submissions.
Butterbean appeared twice in World Wrestling Federation professional wrestling events, competing in boxing matches both times. On December 7, 1997 at the D-Generation X: In Your House pay-per-view event, he defeated former Golden Gloves champion Marc Mero via disqualification. 15 months later, Butterbean defeated WWF Brawl For All champion Bart Gunn in a legitimate shootfight at WrestleMania XV on March 28, 1999, knocking his opponent out in 34 seconds.
Esch is a reserve deputy sheriff in his hometown of Jasper, Alabama, and starred in the reality television documentary entitled Big Law: Deputy Butterbean, which debuted on the Investigation Discovery channel in August 2011.
Butterbean appeared in the film Jackass: The Movie, in a public stunt: an arranged fight with Johnny Knoxville in a department store. Butterbean also appeared in the film Chairman of the Board as the Museum Security Guard.
Butterbean appeared on Adult Swim’s Squidbillies, where he sang the national anthem, finally beating up a fan for not taking off his hat. He appeared on CMT’s Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling television show, on Team Beefcake.
Butterbean appeared on TruTV’s Friends of the People in a sketch as “Dr. Butterbean”, using his sweet science boxing skills as an anesthesiologist. The Season 2 Episode 7 was entitled “Great White Haters”.
Butterbean was featured on the cover of, and was the final boss character in, the EA Sports game Toughman Contest, released in 1995 for the Sega Genesis and Sega 32X. He also appeared as a playable character in all of the EA Sports boxing video games in the Knockout Kings series.
In the 2007 PC game The Witcher, the main character can challenge a tavern fistfighter (with a body structure similar to that of Esch) by the name of Butter Bean during the second chapter of the game.
Butterbean is a playable fighter in EA’s fifth installment of the Fight Night series Fight Night Champion.