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  July 7, 2001



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Bent out of shape


By BRET HART -- SLAM! Wrestling
 A few years ago, I was asked if I wanted to attend a horseshoe bending competition at the Stampede.

 I thought: Why not, it's all in good fun. I took it pretty much as a lark but tell that to then-Flame Tim Hunter and even that year's Miss Calgary. To them, this was very serious stuff: He grew up around horses, she was a real cowgirl and they went at it with everything they've got -- while I stood there feeling pretty silly bending the metal into some abstract art form resembling a pretzel.

 And so, for a long time in my travels, I told the story of how I was sixth in the world at horseshoe bending. Of course, I neglected to mention there were only six of us in the contest and I had come in a comical last.

 Then there was the time Jim Neidhart was asked to compete in the Stampede anvil toss. Unlike me, Jim took it very seriously and everyone ran for cover because he was at Stu's house throwing around everything he could find -- old transmissions, motors, a few relatives. Ol' Jim ended up hurling that anvil 22 ft., a world record that I think still stands. Anyway, now you know how Jim got the nickname Anvil.

 This year, I'm looking forward to just being a Stampede spectator and having a lot of fun. A friend of mine, Alanna Blinn, 16, is sure to be there dazzling us with her fancy fastdraw. She entertains with the Guns of the Golden West as Annie Oakley, impressing crowds of all ages. She is also hosting the World Fastdraw Championships -- North of the 49th S/B elimination at the Bearspaw Community Centre July 13-15. This is the first time in the 50-year history of the sport that the championships will be held outside of the U.S. and that is in large part due to Alanna's reputation and aspirations.

 I first met Alanna's dad, Darryl, on the set of Lonesome Dove, where he was a resident expert on guns of the Wild West. Alanna is not only following in her dad's footsteps but has a passion for it that is blazing a trail of her own.

 Another friend of mine, Chris Archer of Archer's Training Centre, has been very into Old West gun competitions for the past five years or so but, for him, it's cowboy action shooting. In cowboy action, the bullets are real (they're wax in fast draw) and you have to manoeuvre your way through an obstacle course -- say a prop horse, train and wagon -- while shooting four guns (two pistols, a lever action rifle and a shotgun) at specified targets

 Chris' speed has earned him the nickname The Iron Jackrabbit because he often comes a close second to his coach, 20-year veteran and undisputed cowboy action champion of the world, The Kanada Kidd.

 Chris recently placed ahead of his teacher but he says it was only a fluke because the Kanada Kidd dropped a gun -- for the first time ever -- and the points penalty was high enough for Chris to take the lead.

 Not only that, Chris' wife, Ellie, is ranked second in Canada in the female division. Quite an explosive couple!

 The other day I noticed a picture hanging on the wall at the gym.

 There I was with the Kanada Kidd and rocker Ted Nugent.

 Now the Kanada Kidd is a friend of mine but I've never met Ted Nugent.

 Ah, the wonders of computer photography.

 Nugent is a friend of Kidd's and we're gonna go see him at Cowboys this week.

 Speaking of Ted Nugent, that brings me back to a story about Jim the Anvil.

 About a decade ago, me and all the other WWF wrestlers boarded planes on Christmas Eve, as usual, to go to work.

 All except for Jim.

 When I got there, I had no tag-team partner and the office said Jim had called in sick -- and they didn't buy it for a second.

 Neither did the wrestlers.

 In fact, neither did I.

 We all thought: Hey, if we have to work on the holidays, what makes him special?

 What we didn't know is that Jim really was sick -- in fact, he felt so bad, he thought he was going to die.

 He went from doctor to doctor with no relief until finally, out of pure desperation, he saw a little old country doctor who simply asked him: "Have you handled any cats lately?"

 Turns out, Jim had picked himself up an honest to goodness case of cat scratch fever.

 Every time I hear Nugent's song, I laugh because to this very day, not one wrestler believes Jim was really sick and Neidhart's 'catch scratch fever' story has gone down in wrestling legend as the sorriest bogus excuse ever.

 Happy Stampede, everybody.

 See ya around town.

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