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SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: The Hart Family


The Hart Family

HOMETOWN: Calgary, Alberta
"Canada's first family of wrestling"


  There isn't much to be said about the Hart Family that hasn't already been said.

  No other family has had so many family members involved inside and outside the ring as the Harts. The Rougeaus come close, but can't really compete. Some have even called the Harts the First Family of Canadian Sport. While they may not be THE First Family, they certainly belong in the same sentence as the Conachers, the Howes and the Sutters. Stu Hart

  Stu Hart, born May 3, 1915 in Saskatoon, was a great amateur wrestler for Canada, but because of the Second World War, he was denied his chance to compete in the Olympics. He was also a standout center for the Edmonton Eskimos. Stu turned to pro wrestling under the tutelage of Toots Mondt, and wrestled for more than four decades.

  It wasn't long until he began promoting, first in Edmonton in 1948, and then in 1951 after making some money in real estate when he bought into Calgary's Stampede promotion for $50,000.

  But in between those three years, a more important decision was made. On December 31, 1947 he married American Helen Smith in New York City. She was the daughter of Harry Smith, a miler at the 1912 Olympics. Their marriage provided the foundation in so many ways for the mini-wrestling empire to come.

  They had twelve children -- eight sons and four daughters -- and all had something to do with the Stampede Wrestling Promotion over the years, whether it was as a performer or behind the scenes. (The promotion actually started as Big Time Wrestling, then became Wildcat Wrestling, then finally Stampede.)

  In order, here are the siblings:
  • Smith (wrestled for a time)
  • Bruce (hit his peak teaming with Brian Pillman as Bad Company in the late 80s. Currently promoting and teaching at the Hart Brothers school.)
  • Keith (wrestled for a time)
  • Wayne (worked as a referee)
  • Dean (died Nov. 21, 1990)
  • Elizabeth (married to Jim Neidhart)
  • Georgia (married to bodybuilder B.J. Annis)
  • Bret (perhaps the greatest Canadian pro wrestler ever)
  • Allison (divorced from wrestler Ben Bassarab)
  • Ross (helped with TV production, teaching at the Hart Brothers school)
  • Diana (married to Davey Boy Smith)
  • Owen (Died May 23, 1999)

  In the February 1993 issue of Saturday Night, Bret talked about his sisters. "My sisters were tough enough for any of us to duke it out with. It was a no-win situation. My father was especially partial to the girls. If you were caught laying a finger on your sister, you had to deal with old Stu."

  The Harts are also well-known for their Foothills Athletic Club, home to The Dungeon (in the Hart family home) where many great wrestlers were trained. To name a few (besides the Harts themselves): Dynamite Kid, Junkyard Dog, Chris Benoit, Brian Pillman. Their twenty-room home, the Hart House, was a home-away-from-home for wrestlers on the Stampede circuit and those training in the Dungeon.

  The wrestling business wasn't quite Helen's 'cup of tea', as Keith Hart talked about in an article with a Calgary newspaper. "One of the blessings from wrestling that my mom doesn't really see is how it's kept the whole family together. There's been a lot of fights, a lot of friction over the years, but somehow the wrestling is what binds everyone together. It's the cement of the family."

  On many occasions she encouraged her husband to retire from the game. Stampede Wrestling closed its doors September 14, 1984 when Stu sold the local rights to Titan Sports (the WWF) and the Calgary Boxing and Wrestling Commission was on his back over excessive violence. One year later, Stampede was back. This time it lasted until 1990, when he retired from promoting for good.

  Helen described the business relationship she had with her husband in January 1990 to a Calgary Newspaper. "We did work side-by-side. It worked out well for us because he's very good at domestic things. He'd be cooking supper and I'd be on the phone, sending out releases, doing posters or letters."

  This short bio of the Hart Family hardly does them justice. After all, Bret Hart's been called Calgary's most recognized export. And all of wrestling is thankful for the contribution from the rest of the Harts over the years.

The Stu Hart Interview

By GREG OLIVER -- SLAM! Sports
  On Wednesday, November 26, 1997 Greg Oliver sat down for a one hour chat with the legendary Stu Hart at the Hart House in Calgary. The first part of the interview is mainly questions sent in by readers of SLAM! Wrestling.
  • Part one Stu Hart transcript
  • Part two Stu Hart transcript
    More Hart Family Headlines

    Memories




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