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  April 16, 2000



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Hart slams event


By JASON van RASSEL -- Calgary Sun
 Grappling legend Stu Hart has body slammed a move to hold a birthday celebration for him next month while the World Wrestling Federation is in town.

 The patriarch of wrestling's first family, who turns 85 on May 3, said he won't take part because the card at Stampede Corral comes too close to the one-year anniversary of son Owen's death at a WWF event in Kansas City.

 "They can do whatever they like, but I won't be involved," Stu said.

 The May 31 show is being put on by Stampede Wrestling, a longtime Calgary institution founded by Stu and re-started last year by sons Ross and Bruce after years in hiatus.

 It involves appearances by WWF wrestlers.

  "I would have liked to support Ross and Bruce in this, but it would be in poor taste for me to be celebrating," Stu said.

 For his part, Ross said the WWF had allowed some of its wrestlers to take part in the event as a tribute to Stu, who trained many professional wrestlers over the years.

 "It may seem incongruous they wrestle with us, but they asked just to honour Stu," he said.

 Despite Stampede Wrestling involvement, the Hart family quickly distanced itself from the birthday event -- Owen's widow, Martha, has a wrongful death suit against the WWF.

 Owen, known to fans as The Blue Blazer, was killed May 23, 1999 when he fell from a cable as he was being lowered into the ring at a WWF match in Kansas City's Kemper Arena.

 Famous brother Bret "Hitman" Hart has been a vocal critic of the WWF since leaving the loop in 1997 after a bitter contract dispute.

 "My father has no involvement with the birthday show, he wasn't aware it was being planned," he said.

 "He has nothing to do with the WWF."

 The Stu Hart tribute was supposed to take place four days after a WWF event at the Saddledome on May 27.

 Martha said the WWF is trying to take its legal battles outside the courts to score points in the arena of public opinion.

 "They're going to come in here and try to do something that's in poor taste and I'm ready for that," she said.

 The Hart family lawsuit is scheduled to go ahead in Kansas City on Feb. 5, 2001.

Stampede & WWF to celebrate Stu's 85th

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