Mention Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and you will undoubtedly find someone across North America who has heard of him. Known for being part of WWE legend, Bret Hart was once a part of the storied Hart Foundation with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, was both intercontinental and WWE champ and was best known for his “Sharpshooter” move. Now, however, the outspoken wrestler is known for taking on prostate cancer.
“Hopefully, people will gain strength from that and use me as somebody they can look up to if someone in their family or themselves goes through it,” Bret Hart said on Instagram earlier this week of his cancer battle.
Western Hockey League team Calgary Hitmen, which was founded by Bret Hart and drew its name from the wrestler’s in-ring moniker, hit Twitter to offer its support to the retired wrestler, as did the NHL’s Calgary Flames.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) February 1, 2016
In fact, the Hitmen’s pink and black jerseys are a tribute to Bret Hart, who wore those same colors inside the squared circle during his career. When the news of the Hitman’s prostate cancer hit, nothing but well wishes flooded the internet, and Stone Cold Steve Austin was among the first to praise Bret Hart both as a wrestler and as a human being.
“I wish him all the best,” Austin said, according to UpRoxx. “I love that guy. I got so much respect for him. He truly is one of the best ever — an absolute artist in the ring. I hold him in very high regard, and he’s a very dear friend.”
Madison Square Garden also paid homage to Bret Hart, who wrestled at the venue numerous times. A large board had been erected above the Garden, wishing the Hitman well on his cancer fight.
— SB Nation (@SBNation) February 4, 2016
This, unfortunately, has not been the first time that the now-retired wrestler has had a health crisis. The Napanee Guide reports that on June 24, 2002, Bret Hart fell while riding his bicycle and had a stroke that immobilized the left side of his body. However, thanks to an indomitable work ethic borne of years of working out in “The Dungeon,” his father Stu’s wrestling training facility, by 2011 Bret Hart had almost fully recovered from the stroke.
Bret Hart had said at the time that the stroke was his biggest personal health challenge, and he had learned to count his blessings in the aftermath of it.
“I said to myself that I would never complain about anything, and I think I’ve lived my life that way,” Bret Hart said. “I rarely lose my temper, rarely let anything bother me like it did. I just learned that it’s better to be calmer.”
Bleacher Report said that one case where Bret Hart has learned to try and maintain some degree of calm is where his late brother Owen is concerned. Bret Hart was asked by Ring Rust Radio how he felt about Owen not having been inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, and he acknowledged being ready to see his little brother appropriately honored while adding that Owen’s widow, Martha, might be the partial cause behind the lack of acknowledgement thus far.
“I just think it’s really sad that Martha is still so obtuse and has it in her head the only ones that can grieve over Owen are her and her kids and everyone else can go to hell,” Bret Hart said. “The rest of us miss him too and I don’t agree with her and her idea on how to remember Owen. It’s a shame that she can’t accept that fans love him and miss him just as much she does.”
While Bret Hart once again finds himself in a fight for his life, it is a fight that he is holding his head high for. The Hitman is father of four and grandfather of two, the latter of which appear in the February 1 Facebook post where he discloses his cancer diagnosis.
Bret Hart was slated to go into surgery this week as a first step towards treating his cancer.
[Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images]