Owen Hart: Celebrating a wrestling hero

By Joey Kelleher
Brandon, Manitoba

A lot of critics have been saying a lot of things about wrestling, about how they may be going too far with their stunts and the way they have exploited sex.

The recent death of Owen Hart, a wrestler known as the Blue Blazer, was the main wrestling highlight in the newspapers and television. He died when the rigging of his harness released and he fell approximately 50 feet to his death. He was only 34 years old and left behind his wife Martha and their two small children. I have watched wrestling for many years and it was a shock to find out that someone I had grown up watching had died in such a tragic way.

Photo taken when a SNN reporter
had the chance to speak with
Owen Hart last year when he
visited the Halifax Forum.

I have learned over the years not to take wrestling seriously. I have learned that it is all a rehearsed show. But I have also learned that to many people, including his friends, fans and family, Owen Hart was a hero. He was a hero to everyone who came to see wrestling and they could be like him. He was a hero to his friends because of his humour and fun attitude, and he was a hero to his family. His wife knew that what he did was what he loved. His children knew that they were lucky to be the son of Owen Hart. They knew they were lucky to have a father who spread laughter and wonder, inside and outside the ring. You may say that Hart was just a wrestler, that he was a fake, but in a lot of people's hearts he was a hero. Most of all, he was a Canadian hero.

Owen Hart was born in Calgary, Alberta and was the youngest of Stu and Helen Hart's 12 children. His father, an ex-wrestler, himself trained him in the "dungeon", a wrestling training facility in the Hart family basement. It was called the "dungeon" because of the screams of pains that came when Stu Hart put wrestling moves on his "students." In 1986, when Owen was 21, he was ready to join Stampede Wrestling, owned by his father. But it was not doing too well.

Owen opted to embark on an international wrestling career, while winning many belts including becoming the first westerner to win the IWGP junior heavyweight champion. He went to the United States where the WWF showed interest in him. But nothing happened so he left and hit the road, showing his skills in Mexico, Canada, Japan, and Europe and had a very short stint in the WCW. Owen returned to the WWF and formed a tag team with his brother-in-law Jim Neidhart in the New Foundation but the partnership didn't last. Neidhart left the WWF and Owen joined up with Koko B. Ware to form High Energy. Owen was injured and when he returned Koko was gone and Owen became the Rocket. He won the United World Heavyweight in the USA. He entered the WWF and he finally made his mark. He had instant recognition with the fans and soon won many titles including the Tag Team Champion (four times), Intercontinental Champion (twice) European Champion, 1994 King of the Ring, and Slammy Award winner (twice).

Hart's accomplishments have been extraordinary and not many wrestlers have achieved the same status. Not many people think that wrestlers are heroes but I think that in some way, everyone is a hero. Everyone does something, once in their life, that changes someone else's life. Whether it's small words of encouragement or giving money to a person in need, everyone, including most of all Owen Hart, can be a hero.