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.