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  August 14, 1999



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Do you have what it takes?
By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- For the Calgary Sun
  So you want to be a wrestler?

 You've tolerated years of torment about your hobby. You've come out into the open and admitted to friends and loved ones that you didn't stop watching when you were 12.

 Don't be too quick to believe their shocked expressions because most of them are closet wrestling fans too.

 Try asking how come that huge pile of wrestling mag rags they claim they haven't seen since they were kids has the current month's issue on top.

 Or how come when they pick on you for watching wrestling they know what all the storylines are.

 I still get people who ask for autographs by saying something like, "It's for my wife's friend's son, Joey."

 I'm happy to sign and then ask, "What's your name?"

 "Er ..... Joey...Joseph."

 On the other hand, there are all kinds of politicians, celebrities, and especially other athletes, who don't feel they need to hide the fact that they contribute to making wrestling shows, by far, the highest-rated programs on cable TV week after week.

 When the wrestling magazines, fantasy leagues, and internet just don't satisfy your mat addiction and even going to the matches leaves you wanting for more, you want to take it the next step and step into the ring.

 So you want to be a wrestler?

 You'd probably be better off telling ma and pa about your radical religious beliefs or sexual experimentations. You want to be a rassler?

 Heck, my own mother dreaded the day I donned the tights. She said she didn't want me to break my nose. Of course, the first thing that got broken was my nose. Mothers know these things.

 I don't suggest trying to convince anyone, including yourself, that you should be a wrestler to get rich --because chances are, you won't.

 Wrestling has been good to me but how many guys work hard and train hard and never make a name for themselves? Don't get into wrestling for the money.

 Get into it if you love it. And if you love it, don't be afraid to admit to yourself that you need it and breathe it. That's the devotion that can make a weekend warrior into an international superstar.

 I've seen some of the most dedicated, hard working guys who just don't make it in wrestling. Iron will alone isn't enough. You have to be able to walk the walk and talk the talk. Some of the most famous wrestlers of all time had limited technical skills but no one noticed because they had tremendous charisma. Practice cutting promos. Use a mirror or home video.

 Of course if the relatives looked at you funny before, this will send even the dog running for cover.

 Then there are some things that are hard to get around -- like size, the reason wrestling devotees like Harvey Whippleman and Jimmy Hart are managers.

 I'm fairly certain that prior to winning my first World Championship, in 1992, my size held me back, and I'm 6 ft. and 238 lbs.

 When I rose to the level of World Champion, I think that was the turning point that helped to open the door for guys my size to go higher on the card than they even could before. They proved they were worth their weight in gold.

 It's encouraging that a number of talented ring veterans stepped in to save the sport by opening wrestling schools to pass on the legacy. The work my brothers, especially Bruce and Ross, are doing with Stampede Wrestling is a prime example. Even established superstars are looking to polish up their ring skills and they come to my own little wrestling camp to train with me and Leo Burke -- a wrestling school for wrestlers.

 But the most exciting thing of all is that the young kids just starting out are interested in learning the traditional ways --and teaching them.

 Look at the fine example set by my nephew, Ted Annis, oldest of the 19 Hart grandchildren, a third-generation wrestler with 21 wrestling students, ages 5-17.

 I can hardly wait to see what these kids can do and who among them will be tomorrow's wrestling legends.

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