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Weapon X

Stu Hart R.I.P.

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Canadian wrestling patriarch Stu Hart dies in Calgary at age 88

 

JUDY MONCHUK

Canadian Press

 

 

Thursday, October 16, 2003

 

CREDIT: (CP)

 

Stu Hart, patriarch of Canada's famous wrestling family and the founder of Stampede Wrestling, died Thursday at 88. (CP)

 

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CALGARY (CP) - Stu Hart, patriarch of Canada's famous wrestling family and the founder of Stampede Wrestling, died Thursday at 88.

 

Hart had been admitted to Rockyview General Hospital on Oct. 3 for an elbow infection and then developed pneumonia. He also suffered from ailments associated with diabetes and arthritis. His death Thursday afternoon was confirmed by a spokeswoman for one his wrestling sons, Bret (Hitman) Hart. No details were released.

 

A talented athlete who played football for the Edmonton Eskimos and a champion wrestler in his own right, Hart became famous for his moves outside the ring.

 

He founded Stampede Wrestling, the Calgary-based regional circuit which started in 1948 and flourished for decades before the World Wrestling Federation pushed local promoters out of the picture. He was renowned as a trainer of young talent and headed a wrestling dynasty that included sons Bret and Owen (Blue Blazer) Hart.

 

Family members have said the grappling legend struggled without his lifemate, Helen, who died in 2001 after 53 years of marriage.

 

Stu Hart was humbled by the accolades he received over the years. He was a member of Canada's Wrestling Hall of Fame and became a member of the Order of Canada in 2001.

 

"I think guys like Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky deserve the fame," he once said. "I appreciate them selecting me. I've had some exposure that's been nice."

 

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein called Hart's passing "the end of an era."

 

"Stu and his wife led one of Alberta's most colourful and best-known families of the last half-century," Klein said from Houston, Tx., where he is on a trade mission.

 

"Stu personified the qualities that distinguish Calgary and all Alberta. I'm talking about qualities such as friendliness, good humour, a strong sense of fairness and compassion, energy, ambition and just being a down-to-earth fellow with no pretensions."

 

Seven of Hart's eight sons became pro wrestlers and his four daughters married wrestlers. Along the way, Stu became respected around the world as a trainer of young wrestling talent.

 

Hart helped launch careers for dozens of grapplers, including Andre the Giant, the British Bulldogs, and the Junk Yard Dog. Their skills were honed in the Harts' fabled "dungeon," a wrestling ring in the dark basement of the family's twin-gabled, red brick Calgary home.

 

The most famous member of the wrestling dynasty is Bret (Hitman) Hart, who left the WWF in 1997, saying the federation had gone too far with its televised plotlines that focused too much on sex and racism. He suffered a stroke in June 2002 and is recovering.

 

A former son-in-law, Davey Boy (British Bulldog) Smith, died in May 2002 of heart failure.

 

"He took adversity and turned it into triumph," eldest daughter Ellie once said of her father.

 

As a young man wrestling at New York's Yankee Stadium, Hart rubbed shoulders with legends like Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth.

 

In later years, he was able to take advantage of his acquaintances. He cajoled Muhammad Ali, Jack Demspey, Joe Lewis and Max Baer to be guest referees for Stampede Wrestling cards.

 

"They all came out to guest referee my main events," Hart recalled in a 2000 interview. "It was a fairly nice touch for them - they got (up to) $12,000 for the night. But they were wonderful."

 

Hart's later years were filled with pain and tragedy. Son Dean died of kidney failure in 1990. Hart's 13-year-old grandson Matthew Annis died of flesh-eating disease in 1996, and youngest son Owen (Blue Blazer) Hart plunged to his death on pay-per-view TV when a stunt went horribly wrong in 1999.

 

A family feud ensued over a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the WWF by Owen's widow, Martha, was particularly hard on Helen and Stu, who supported their daughter-in-law. Bret accused some of his siblings of sponging off his parents and being interested in a portion of the multimillion-dollar settlement.

 

 

 

 

 

ctrl-c ctrl-v, my man

 

 

Rest in fucking peace... RIP to Owen too.

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^^^^^

 

I remember watching the night they aired that. So, so sad. I also

remember all the media assholes who said that the sympathy for Owen

Hart was just a publicity stunt. That was even worse.

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