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  Aug. 6, 1999



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Living a Piper dream
'Rowdy' wrestler has family, riches and fame

By SHELLY DECKER -- Edmonton Sun
Wrestling giant "Rowdy'' Roddy Piper's biggest blows are reserved for the WWF.

These days, wrestling has been transformed into action that should be found under the big top, believes Piper, who's in our city to play Daniel Boone in an episode of the family TV series Mentors.

"I hate it. I absolutely despise it,'' said the soft-spoken Canadian, who helped spark unrelenting world attention for wrestling when he and "Mr. Wonderful," Paul Orndorff, climbed into the ring to battle Hulk Hogan and Mr. T in Wrestlemania I in '85.

"I hate the fact they've turned it into a circus. I'm the real deal. My right hip is titanium, this wrist has been broken going on eight, nine years,'' said Piper, 45, pointing to a large lump that protrudes from his left wrist.

"The only way they can fix it is to fuse it and I came fifth in the world playing the bagpipes when I was about 14 and it would be stiff and I couldn't bend it,'' which would make playing impossible, explained the multi-millionaire, who left the World Wrestling Federation a few years ago.

Piper's quick to say he still admires wrestlers, but has no time for promoters or "leeches'' who have turned professional wrestling into a sad mix of clowning, choreography and sleaziness that includes wrestlers smoking and boozing.

While he has a contract to wrestle six times a year, Piper is looking forward to its end on March 3, 2001 when he can finally retire from the ring.

And he still mourns the loss of his second cousin, Calgary's Owen Hart, who fell to his death on May 23 while being lowered into a WWF ring.

"It's terrible,'' he said sadly.

His gentle and warm demeanour is a sharp contrast to the Piper the public knows - a fiery, fierce fighter in a kilt.

But there is little about this man, who describes himself as introverted, that fits the mould of his ring personality.

His complex offering of accomplishments includes wrestling - more than 6,000 matches and 21 championships - a 20-year marriage that has produced six kids, his bagpipe success and screen work (the feature film They Live and TV, including Outer Limits).

The devout Christian, who was born in Saskatoon, has a life most people dream about - family, riches and fame.

But his early teen years were hardly a fairy tale. After a childhood filled with regular moves that included stints in Scotland and Australia, he left his Winnipeg home at the tender age of 13 and lived on the street for two years. He hustled quarters and did "whatever I had to do" to survive.

Moving frequently to different cities, he was back in Winnipeg when he got his break. Even though he was just 15 years old, he was asked to fill in for a no-show at a wrestling match where he'd be paid $25.

When elated friends offered to play bagpipes as Piper entered the arena, he decided to don a kilt. He was an instant hit and landed his wrestling gig.

"I was the youngest professional wrestler in the world,'' recalled the thoughtful man, whose vast experience in the ring includes many wins, losses and, amazingly, three stab wounds suffered when he was either entering or leaving the ring.

"I was afraid to stop wrestling because I had a Grade 8 education and I had no other thing I could do so it really made me fight hard.''

Much of the credit for who he is today goes to God, his kids and wife, Kitty. "I love her to death. She's four-foot-11 1/2 and 100 pounds and she's the only thing in the world I'm afraid of,'' joked Piper, who lives with his family on a mountain-side ranch near Portland, Oregon.

Nowadays, Piper wants to focus on family and acting.

Daniel Boone, a person he describes as a childhood hero, exemplifies the type of roles he prefers.

"I want to be associated with clean and I'll say Disney (like productions),'' said Piper, who sported fake sideburns and wore leather garb with fringes for his Boone role.

Mentors revolves around a teen computer whiz, Oliver (Chad Krowchuk) who hails historic figures from the past to deal with modern-day problems.

In the episode titled, The Rescue, Boone - who was a tracker and father of 10 kids - helps track Oliver and his mother, who are lost in a mine.

"It's so clean and pure,'' said Piper of the series.

Filming wraps tomorrow.

More on Roddy Piper




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