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SLAM! WRESTLING: Guest Columnist

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SLAM! Wrestling







Tuesday, June 1, 1999

SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column

'Owen, you have a beautiful daughter'

HART Owen Hart on his way to the ring for his match against Bad Ass Billy Gunn at Raw Is War in Toronto on February 8, 1999. -- Stan Behal, Toronto Sun.
By MIKE JENKINSON -- Edmonton Sun

I'm not ashamed to admit it. Watching the WWF's "Over The Edge" pay-per-view two Sundays ago, I cried when they announced Owen Hart had died.

The following night on Raw, when the World Wrestling Federation broadcast a two-hour tribute to Owen, I wept. And today, I can barely type his name without my eyes welling up with tears.

I didn't cry because Owen was a good friend - because he wasn't. We didn't know each other.

I didn't cry because Owen was my all-time favourite wrestler - he was among my favourites, but I actually liked his brother Bret better.

I cried because of the little girl I saw in his arms two years ago.

It was the "Canadian Stampede" pay-per-view show in Calgary. My brother Dean flew in from Winnipeg and the two of us drove down to Cowtown on the day of the card. We had great seats: seven rows from ringside, right along the security railing next to the wrestlers' entrance ramp.

It was the big homecoming match for the Harts, who at the time were doing an anti-American, pro-Canada gimmick which got them tremendous boos in the States and thunderous cheers in Canada.

As this was their home town of Calgary, when Owen, Bret and the rest of the Hart Foundation came out for the main event, the crowd was deafening.

When Owen pinned Stone Cold Steve Austin in the ring in the main event to win the big 10-man tag team match, the roof nearly came off the Saddledome.

The entire Hart clan, which had been watching from ring-side, piled over the security barrier and rushed into the ring to join in the celebration.

At some point during the in-ring festivities, Owen took his little baby girl, Athena, in his arms. He then left the ring and started walking away from the ring towards where we were sitting.

As the two of them were making their way back up the ramp, Owen stopped right in front of me and my brother to slap hands. I shouted out, "Owen, you have a beautiful little girl!" I don't know if he heard me. It was so noisy in that arena. I shouted it again, "You have a beautiful daughter, Owen!"

She was beautiful - tiny and perfect, snuggled safe in her daddy's arms without a care in the world. And Owen at that moment was nothing but a proud father. Wrestling was probably the last thing on his mind as he held that precious little life.

I wasn't three feet from them both. Right in front of me. Two years ago.

Now, he's gone.

How do you tell that little girl, who is just three years old now, that her daddy is never coming home?

How, when she's old enough to understand, does she understand how her father died? Why her father died?

The WWF roster shared their memories of Owen last Monday on Raw. Some laughed as they told stories about Owen the practical joker. Some trickled tears as they mourned the loss of a colleague. Others cried, remembering the good times they had shared together.

Only a couple of the wrestlers wept; sobbed. They were the ones most like Owen, with a wife and kids at home.

They were the ones who know what it's like to look into your child's eyes and see yourself.

They were the ones who knew the unspoken bond between a father and his children.

They knew, they said, how much Owen loved his kids and how he looked forward retiring in a couple of years so he could be at home with them.

Instead, Owen Hart will be buried in Calgary today. There will be more tears. Wrestling fans will cry because they've lost a favourite wrestler, someone who always gave his best in the ring.

The Harts will mourn the loss of their youngest son and their brother. Owen's widow Martha will grieve the death of her husband and lover.

And all I can see is this little girl, being carried up the entrance ramp in her daddy's arms.

I'm crying already.


Michael Jenkinson can be reached by e-mail at mj@the-newsroom.com.
His homepage is at http://www.the-newsroom.com.


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