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  Sat, June 1, 2002



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Hulk a hero to all



By BRET HART -- For SLAM! Wrestling

STARDOM HAS NEVER SPOILED GOOD OL' TERRY BOLLEA

Hulk Hogan.

He hasn't changed a whole heck of a lot from the way he was the first time I met him back in 1979.

The first time I met Terry Bollea, we were both working for Georgia Championship Wrestling, which eventually evolved into the WCW.

Back then, he was known as Sterling Golden. He was very green. And very impressive. On the day I left Atlanta to come home, I knocked on his door to say goodbye and told him if he ever wanted to learn to wrestle, he was welcome to come up and work for my dad any time.

He thanked me and meant it, saying he'd keep it in mind.

The next time I saw him was in Japan. He'd just shot his cameo for Rocky III and was on the verge of mega-stardom that nobody could have even begun to imagine.

Still, the same guy.

When I started with the WWF, in August of '84, he was on his way to being the biggest name in the history of wrestling.

I can remember, even during the glory days of Hulkamania, how Terry would come into the dressing room and say 'hi' to every single wrestler. Every night he headlined, there was a sellout and, throughout the night, all the wrestlers would come up to him and thank them both for the house, for putting food on their tables and making wrestling something worth respecting.

Hulk Hogan was not only a hero to millions of Hulkamaniacs but to all the wrestlers, too.

If Vince McMahon was Julius Caesar, then Hulk Hogan was Alexander the Great.

I remember one time at an airport, in about 1987, when Hulk signed one autograph after another to the point where it took him 45 minutes to get to the gate.

They were closing the doors as he was boarding the plane and this one fan asked him for his autograph. He said apologetically: "I'm sorry, I can't, I'm gonna miss my flight ..." and he got on the plane.

I was right behind him and I heard a bystander flippantly remark, "Just like I figured. I always thought he was a jerk."

I thought to myself, that person has no idea how many autographs he just signed. Being a hero like Hulk Hogan, it's hard to make everybody happy but for a guy who's been wrestling as long as he has, he's certainly done a heck of a job.

Hulk was especially considerate of me when I joined him in the WCW.

I saw him a few days ago at Davey's funeral and, despite the sad backdrop, it was nice to catch up on things.

So then I opened up my paper and saw a picture of Hulk, taken in Calgary, with a 15-year-old girl named Amanda Marqniq, who dreams of being a pro wrestler but needed a heart transplant.

It brought back what I remember most about Hulk Hogan, even more than his feats as a great wrestler. The countless times the office came to get him from the dressing room to make the wish of a sick or dying child come true.

Despite the fact he was pulled in too many different directions and had little time for himself or his family, Hulk always had all the time in the world for kids who needed him to be their hero.

He somehow knew just the right things to say. It was never a burden to him.

If anything, it gave him a sense of real purpose. I've always tried to follow his example.

In yesterday's paper I read how Amanda has now gotten her new heart.

I thought I might just give Hulk a call and let him know.

He'd be happy to hear that.

Some things in wrestling have always been real and Hulk Hogan is one of them.

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