We've lost a true hero
By MARTIN HUDSON -- Calgary Sun
Everyone has heroes.
Some lose themselves in the colourful world of Spiderman and Superman. Ink-spun icons of the ages where the danger is never as real as in ordinary life.
Others look to the flesh and blood of men and women such as Martin Luther King or Princess Diana. People who make a difference in the lives of those who need a champion.
And sports stars who light up their arena and shine equally bright outside their game are the inspiration for so many more of all ages.
To millions of wrestling fans around the world, Calgary's own Owen Hart was such a man. A hero. As the Blue Blazer, he was part cartoon character. A loving husband and father. The little brother who followed his dream. The son who wanted to be just like his dad. And a sports star who never tarnished his legendary family name.
True, he didn't pull babies from burning buildings or perform other heroic acts.
But nonetheless, he was a hero to many in a world sadly lacking decent role models.
And now he's tragically lost while trying to make the show that much more spectacular.
Forever wrestling in the imposing shadow of his big brother Bret, Owen Hart carved his own niche in the high-octane world of the World Wrestling Federation.
In the WWF, bigger is better and Owen was a showman to the awful end.
Never quite the headliner, Owen still shared the stage with the biggest beasts of the business: Stone Cold, Mankind, The Rock, Triple H, Kane and The Undertaker.
And all that time in dad Stu's Dungeon paid off, as it did for Bret, with unparalleled technique.
In the ring, he was above all else a wrestler's wrestler.
The Harts aren't known for outrageous characters. Quite simply, they are known for skilled, honest wrestling. And decency.
It's something the average Calgarian likely doesn't realize but the name Hart is truly legendary in the world of wrestling. And we emphasize "world."
Bret "Hitman" Hart, in fact, is likely the best-known Calgarian around the globe. Think about it, who is bigger on the world stage?
And while Bret is best known and admired for his wrestling chops and good-guy image, and rightfully so, little Owen was cut from the same cloth.
But it's wrestling we're talking about here and the respect it receives from ordinary people and sports fans is often grudging at best.
Fake! No doubt about it. Every blow to the head is not really a blow to the head. Those apparent kicks to the groin would leave a grown man crippled if they really connected.
But the constant flying through the air and being thrown to the mat does take its toll on knees and shoulders and backs. These guys really do pay in pain for their fame.
Although the Sun covers wrestling more than most major daily newspapers -- quite often in this section -- we recognize it for what it is -- sports entertainment. The results should be taken with a grain of salt, but the characters and personalities are just as real as those fawned over in the Entertainment section.
And we truly defy anyone to question the sheer athleticism of these men and women.
No one's arguing that what you see in the squared circle is not always what it's made out to be.
But make no mistake, Owen Hart was an awesome athlete who honed a time-honoured craft passed down to him by his legendary father and older brothers.
And he was a hero whose family and fans are hurting.
We extend our deepest sympathy to the Hart family and Owen's friends and fans around the world who are trying to make some sense of this tragedy.
Owen, you did your family and Calgary proud, and for that, we salute you.