How did a wrestler get voted one of the top 50 Canadians of all time by CBC’sGreatest Canadian?
By using his pro wrestling celebrity to benefit the lives of others in the same spirit of community and charity as his promoter father and role model, the amazing Stu Hart.
Well, that and having one of the most illustrious — and colorful — careers in wrestling history.
A Hart in the Ring
Bret is asecond-generation wrestlerfrom the renowned Hart wrestling family and one of eleven siblings. He made his debut in the ring in 1978 as a replacement for a wrestler who was unable to complete his match, but quickly went on to become, according to Sky Sports, “one of, if not the greatest, to have ever graced the squared circle.”
Having begun training with his father in the family’s “Dungeon,” their basement training space, at age nine, Hart became a standout in his high school’s amateur wrestling division before moving on to join Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling program in Calgary as a referee.
He made hisWorld Wrestling Federation (WWF) debut in 1984 tag-teamed with the Dynamite Kid, then went on to defeat Aldo Marino in a Superstars of Wrestling televised singles match.
Going by the name of “Hitman” for most of his wrestling career, Hart rose to fame through championship success in the WWF, now known as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He left that franchise for World Championship Wrestling in 1997 but sustained a concussion in January 2000 that led to his subsequent retirement from wrestling.
Fortunately for fans, he headed back to the WWE ring for 2010-11, winning his final championship. He headlined WrestleMania IX, X, and XII and was the first man to win both WWF and WCW Triple Crown Championships.
Among his other wrestling feats are:
That adds up to a lot of winning, with accolades spanning five decades and a total of 32 championships held throughout his career, justifying his self-description as, “The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.”
Unfortunately, an ill-timed kick to the head during one of his pay-per-view matches resulted in a concussion and major stroke that ended his wrestling career for good.
Rocking Back from the One-Two Punch
His concussion and stroke may have closed the book on his wrestling career, but Bret Hart has more than just muscle in his arsenal.
Writing Down the Line
Hart is a prolific writer, contributing aweekly columnto theCalgary Sun from 1991 to 2004 and spending seven years crafting the story of his life in his autobiography,Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, which was released in 2008 by Random House Canada.
He has also provided forewords to two autobiographies, Roddy Piper’s and Harley Race’s, and also contributed a foreword toTributes II: Remembering the World’s Greatest Wrestlers by Dave Meltzer.
Acting on Instincts
Since Hart was a filmmaking student at Mount Royal College, it’s only natural that he would turn his talents to the silver screen and television.
From televised appearances on MADtv,The Simpsons,Honey I Shrunk the Kids TV series,The Adventures of Sinbad, and more, Hart has brought his larger-than-life personality to millions of fans. His exceptional performance in a recurring role onLonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years garnered him a coveted Gemini nomination.
Most recently, he has made his way into the world of live theater, starring inAladdin, the Magical Family Musical.
He continues to pour his talents into artistic pursuits, including writing a romance novel and starring inTales from the Dead Zone, a horror anthology by Barry J. Gillis.
A Hart for Charity
Like his father, Hart has a keen interest in paying it forward by participating in, and promoting, a variety of charitable causes.
In 2018, Hart was honored with the name 'Courageous Chief' by Siksika Elder Miiksika’am (Clarence Wolfleg) in a traditional Nitsapi naming ceremony as recognition for his efforts in building cultural relationships among indigenous youth throughout Western Canada.
After powering through rehabilitation from his stroke in 2004, Hart has become a spokesperson for the March of Dimes Canada’s Stroke Recovery Canada program to bring encouragement and hope to other stroke survivors.
He was diagnosed withprostate cancerin 2016, and is an outspoken advocate for early detection, lending his name and celebrity to Men’s Health Days and charitable events like the Seventh Annual Village Nutraiser in an effort to educate men on the importance of getting checked and raise money for prostate health-related charities.
Still Fighting the Good Fight
Bret Hart may have retired from wrestling, but his indomitable spirit keeps him active pursuing the things he loves like acting and writing — and fighting for the causes he champions.
To ensure he’s always at his best for the many events, performances, and appearances to which he lends his name, he puts a premium on getting a good night’s sleep.
To that end, Hart chooses the unparalleled comfort of a Canadian-made and produced Lunazen mattress. Not only does Lunazen support the Canadian economy by providing jobs and sourcing supplies locally, but it provides the right level of medium-soft firmness for perfect support.
Lunazen provides sleepers with an always reliable, unconditionally luxurious sleep experience — offering the kind of championship performance a hero like Bret Hart can truly appreciate.