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   Fri, October 17, 2003



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Calgary comes to grips with loss of Stu
By MIKE D\'AMOUR - Calgary Sun


REMEMBERING A FRIEND ... Frank Sisson, looks over old wrestling programs and pictures of Stu Hart yesterday at Sisson's Silver Dollar Casino. -- DARREN MAKOWICHUK, Calgary Sun


Friends, family and former wrestlers were trying to come to grips with the death of wrestling legend Stu Hart.

Frank Sisson, owner of the Silver Dollar Casino, was at hospital with the Hart family about an hour before Stu passed away yesterday afternoon.

\"At least I had the chance to say goodbye, at least I had that opportunity,\" said an emotional Sisson, minutes after learning his pal of 50 years died.

Old-time wrestler and self-proclaimed \"Canada\'s Greatest Athlete\" Gene Kiniski wrestled Hart in the \'50 and \'60s and didn\'t have a bad word to say about his old ring foe.

\"Stu always kept himself in great shape and contributed a lot to communities in Calgary and Edmonton,\" Kiniski said from his Washington State home.

Premier Ralph Klein said Stu led one of Alberta\'s most colourful and well-known families.

\"Stu personified the qualities that distinguish Calgary and all Alberta,\" he said.

\"I\'m talking about ... friendliness, good humour, a strong sense of fairness, compassion ... and just being a down-to-earth fellow with no pretensions.\"

Vince McMahon, chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment said he was saddened to hear of Stu\'s death.

\"Stu was a pioneer in professional wrestling and more importantly he was a great man,\" he said, adding he\'ll try to make Stu\'s funeral.

\"His influence within this industry, his community and country was immense.\"

Another old-time wrestler said Hart\'s death is \"one hell of a loss.

\"To me he was a lot like a father figure,\" Harley Race said from his home in Kansas City, Mo.

\"He was a rough and tough old guy who was as good as good could be to a lot of people,\" he added.

\"Tell his family they have my deepest, deepest sympathy and if I can possibly make it, I will be there for the funeral.\"

Even the hottest wrestlers in the business said Stu had an effect on their lives.

\"I trained in the dungeon a few times and Stu was pretty old then,\" said WWE superstar Chris Jericho, from Tampa, Fla.

\"But even then he loved to get a hold of you and make you scream in pain.\"

Jericho said Stu was so well-known, every wrestler could imitate his voice.

\"Lou Thesz was a legend too, but no one imitated him.\"

Walter \"Killer\" Kowalski -- who now runs his own wrestling school in Malden, Mass., said he and Stu were \"very\" close pals.

\"He always took care of me,\" said the Killer, his voice soft and raw with emotion.

\"When (Stu\'s son) Owen died, I came for the funeral and stayed at their house and they fed me and everything and treated me like I was part of the family.\"

Mayor Dave Bronconnier said Hart was a \"truly a unique\" Calgarian.

Bronconnier described a meeting he\'d had at Hart\'s southwest home discussing their differing opinions on some city issues.

\"He Jokingly Asked if I Wanted to Go Downstairs to the Torture Chamber to See Which Side Wins -- I Said I\'d Rather Battle With Wits ... I Still Wasn\'t About to Take Him On.\"