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Winnipeg to fete Piper today
Rasslin' icon comes full circle
By CHRIS KITCHING - Winnipeg Sun


Roddy Piper (C. PROCAYLO, Sun)

More than 30 years after he wandered Winnipeg streets and had brushes with crime, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper has come back to make peace with the demons of his past.

Born Roderick Toombs, Piper said he lived without direction during the two years he spent in the city in his mid-teens.

He lived briefly in Windsor Park before drifting to a youth hostel and, eventually, the porch of a woman's home.

"I know I'm going to heaven because I've been to hell," Piper, 51, said yesterday during an interview at a downtown hotel. "I didn't care whether I lived or not."

Now a professional wrestling icon, this return to his old stomping grounds has allowed him to come full circle, he said.

Mayor Sam Katz is presenting an honorary citizenship plaque to Piper at City Hall Tuesday at 1 p.m.

"I'm very honoured that they would even think of doing that," said Piper, who's hosting CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival's My Hometown International Gala on Wednesday.

"If he gives me the key to the city we'll have everyone come to the arena and we'll go steal all the TVs," he said with a laugh. "I didn't expect all of this attention."

Piper also lived in The Pas and Dauphin, following his dad's career as a Mountie and CN Rail police officer.

Piper gained notoriety in the World Wrestling Federation for being a wild and eccentric, kilt-wearing Scotsman. He's still under contract with the company, now known as World Wrestling Entertainment, and makes the occasional appearance on a televised event.

He wrestled his first professional match at Winnipeg Arena for the princely sum of $25 when he was 15. His second gig with the old AWA was in Kansas City. "I just never stopped. I was afraid to stop because I didn't have anywhere to go," he said.

Piper now lives on a ranch southeast of Portland, Ore., and has turned his focus to acting in films and television. There's talk of him starring in a TV series based on the 1988 movie They Live.

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