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  Sat, February 22, 2003



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Bret Tour full of several reunions



By BRET HART -- For SLAM! Wrestling

  In the past couple of weeks, I've had the unique opportunity to have some interesting conversations with some extraordinary people.

I was in Toronto, where I hung out with the Toronto Maple Leafs and had a most enjoyable conversation with Gary Roberts.

We reminisced about his glory days with the Calgary Flames and he was champing at the bit to get back in the lineup after two shoulder operations.

Interestingly enough, he mentioned to me that he and his wife were married by Nomi Whalen and he wanted me to pass on his best regards to her.

While in Toronto, I happened to sit down and have a nice long talk with my old friend Walter Gretzky and Frank Rubini of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Frank was the one who convinced Walter that his struggle to recovery from a brain aneurysm was an important story that needed to be put into words. Humble and shy, Walter finally allowed himself to be talked into it and not only wrote an incredible book that offered hope to me and millions of others in learning, understanding and coping with the hardships of a stroke.

Then, when I was in Minneapolis at the funeral for a wrestling legend, my friend Curt Hennig, I had an interesting face-to-face talk with Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, former flamboyant wrestler and former Minnesota governor.

Jesse has always been a huge fan of my father's and I mentioned to him that if it hadn't been for his colourful commentary about the fabled dungeon in the basement of my dad's house, most people wouldn't know anything about it.

Jesse regaled me with stories of Stu stretching the legendary Superstar Billy Graham, who was famous at that time for his 24-in. arms. I thanked Jesse for his generous remarks about the Hart Foundation back when we first started.

Of course, those were the days when Ventura came to work wearing blue zebra-striped spandex pants, sunglasses more outlandish than Elton John, not to mention the feathered boa!

I've always felt if it hadn't been for Jesse, the Hart Foundation might never have made it.

I was in Regina a few weeks ago and ran into longtime Stampede Wrestling referee Sonny Rheinhart after not seeing him for something like 20 years.

He still looked the same and seemed almost shy and embarrassed that he was taking too much of my time.

Sonny was a great referee and a wonderful man and just a few days after I saw him, he passed away. I'll always be glad I got to see him one last time. I best remember him refereeing midget matches, where he often wound up grinning under a whole heap of 'em.

I also recently had a nice talk with Nomi Whalen the other day about the Second Annual Ed Whalen Charity Event for The Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre that's coming up at Cowboys on Friday, Feb. 28. I'll be signing autographs at 7 p.m. and it's sure to be a fun time for all!

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