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Hitman speaks up
By KEVIN WILLIAMSON, CALGARY SUN


The Hooded Fang is all Hart. The character, created by Mordecai Richler in the children\'s classic Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang, is taking the plunge into small-screen animation with an ongoing series debuting Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on YTV.

And the voice behind the mask belongs to Calgary wrestling legend Bret (Hitman) Hart, who has emerged from the past few dark, painful years with a newfound perspective on his emotional, tumultuous life.

While the marriage of Hart and Fang may seem unlikely, the two actually have a history, albeit fairly recent. Hart read excerpts from the book at a tribute to Richler a year after the acclaimed author\'s death in 2001.

\"I never met Mordecai, but when I did the performance that night, I met (his widow) Florence. She just loved the job I did. She was so impressed she insisted I be the voice.\"

As for the end result, Hart says, \"I laughed when I saw the cartoon. You can definitely tell it\'s my voice. As soon as I heard my voice, I got a big smile on my face. It may not seem like a big achievement, but it was for me.\"

He\'s referring of course to the stroke that struck him down in June 2002.

\"I could barely talk,\" he says of when the producers of the series first approached him.

\"They told me they\'d hang in for me and wait ... I really appreciated it. A lot of people stuck with me through that period.\"

In the book, Jacob Two-Two winds up confronting the Hooded Fang, who is running a prison for children who have inadvertently run afoul of their elders.

He is called Jacob Two-Two because he has two brothers and two sisters and has to say everything twice to be heard.

In the animated series, the Fang remains a frightening wrestler, but one with a gentle side who helps Jacob face his fears.

That\'s a process Hart himself has recently undertaken as he writes his autobiography. \"Everything is going really well. I\'ve been working on a book for a long time, since about 2000 ... I keep going further and I realize how many things I really went through. It gets harder and harder as I write it. But it\'s an interesting way to look back.\"

Particularly painful are the events surrounding the death of his brother Owen in 1999. The 34-year-old wrestler died when his safety harness unbuckled prematurely while he was being lowered into the ring at an arena in Kansas City. \"It\'s very emotional,\" the Hitman says. \"There are a lot of memories I had with Owen. I kept pretty good diaries of my life at that time. There are some really wonderful memories and hopefully I can relay that to the book somehow.\"

Since his stroke, Hart says he is on better terms with Vince McMahon, boss of the former World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment). \"But I don\'t know if there ever won\'t be hard feelings,\" he admits, clearly preoccupied with the past and his book. \"(Writing it) is very emotional sometimes. It\'s draining. There are a lot of memories -- my mom, my dad, so many people who aren\'t around today.

\"I\'m writing the book to let people know what it was really like. It\'s not going to be nasty or lashing out at people. But people are going to find out what it was like.\"

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