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  November 5, 1999



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

TV tribute to Owen


By RICK BELL -- Calgary Sun

OWEN No one can really know what Martha Hart carries with her every minute, every hour, every day. No one.

You know the fatal facts.

In May, far away from home in Kansas City, Owen Hart was supposed to swoop down from the roof of the local arena. A grand entrance for The Blue Blazer.

Owen would finish his bout.

He would come home where he really wanted to be. He was looking forward to moving into his dream home with his family.

But life did not work that way.

Something happened to the harness and Owen fell to the ring. Dead.

In that second -- a second of time that will be debated forever -- Owen left his wife Martha and his young son Oje and his younger daughter Athena.

Tomorrow night at 9 p.m., The Life and Death of Owen Hart airs on A Channel. The A&E network will show the hour-long biography Nov. 16.

It is a chance for all of us to see the achievements of Owen and get the briefest glimpse of the kind of life Owen Hart lived and the man he came to be.

If you choose to watch you will see pictures and home movies and interviews with men of the mat.

You will see Owen and hear him.

But it will be only a piece, a small piece of reality.

"For me, our life was so private. It's really hard to open up. But I want people to see Owen for who he was. It's healing to do that. You know, I loved him so much. For me to lose him cold, just like that, it was unbearable."

To Martha and to the Hart family and to his close friends, Owen was so much more than a wrestler, a celebrity, a man known throughout the world.

"The Owen I knew was different from the public Owen the wrestlers talk about," says Martha.

"I'm not placing Owen into sainthood, but Owen was gentle, domestic, sentimental. Few people know how sweet Owen was, how Owen would go and visit the sick kids. Not for the notoriety. Not for the recognition. He was just such an ordinary person.

"Owen never thought he was better than anybody else. He was surprised he could make a difference, that he could make somebody happy with a picture or a handshake. Owen always thought: 'If I can have this kind of power, I want to do some good. I'm going to take this and run with it.' "

Martha's mind goes back in time. Martha was the Inglewood girl who went to Western Canada High and met Owen at a rugby match.

Martha saw him often. Owen went to Ernest Manning and would come to Western Canada to wrestle or play football. When Owen played football, he wore number 42, but it was easy for Martha to spot him.

It was the big gold helmet he wore.

Martha laughs about that helmet now.

Owen was her first boyfriend and her last, the truest of high school sweetheart stories.

Martha doesn't laugh when she talks about wrestling. She sued the World Wrestling Federation and WWF boss Vince McMahon soon after Owen's death.

"I don't watch wrestling. I'm disgusted by it. There was a time I thought it was entertaining. The wrestlers were live super heroes for the kids and role models. But a couple years ago, it turned hard core. Who takes pleasure in that? It's so crude," says Martha.

"With Owen, if his own children couldn't watch it, he didn't do it."

It is time for Martha to get seven year-old Oje to tyke hockey. Athena at four is into figure skating.

"Every day is a struggle. I feel I'm going to do good things. I'm trying to make sure Owen's death doesn't destroy me. I know I will be happy again, but it's a long, long road. I'm not there now."

And with that, Martha heads to the rink.

RELATED LINKS

  • The Life and Death of Owen Hart in the SLAM! Wrestling Movie Database
  • More on Owen Hart