Stu Hart: Lord of the Ring Biography Notes

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Headline Posted by Richard Coogan on 10:22:48 AM Apr/25/2002

[Courtesy: SlamWrestling]

Below are some notes from Stu Hart's biography, 'Lord of the Ring';

"The line from Kris Kristofferson, 'He's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction,' just fits him so well," says Marsha Erb, author of Stu Hart: Lord of the Ring, a 266-page chronicle of his life.

"His girls would say, he's so masculine, he's feminine. Because he could sit down and use a sewing machine and no one would question his masculinity.

"He could do whatever he wants."

The contradiction between intimidating wrestling icon and nurturing house husband and father, is one of many that dot Hart's life.

Other prominent examples:

His father, Edward, always made the wrong decisions in his business dealings, leaving his family homeless; Hart was the exact opposite, finding opportunities out of the blue and lifting his family into a life of comfort.

Hart was usually served well by his business savvy, capitalizing on opportunities to build his promotion company, Stampede Wrestling, into a power in Western Canada and the Northwestern U.S.; his sense would seemingly abandon him when dealing with WWF boss Vince McMahon, who would often leave Hart with what some perceived as the short end of the stick in their business dealings.

"It's a family dense with material," Erb says of writing about Hart.

Erb, a judge in the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, spent two years writing the book. Erb, who worked as a journalist before starting her career in law, used interviews with dozens of wrestling greats and friends of the Harts to reconstruct the events and anecdotes in the book.

The result is a casual narrative which details Hart's escape from abject poverty as a young child -- his family was reduced to living in a canvas tent for a period in the 1920s -- his discovery of athletics, his rise in amateur wrestling, his ascent in professional wrestling both in the ring and as a promoter, the raising of his family and concludes in the tragedy of recent years.

"It's a success story in many ways," says Erb, a Calgarian who was raised in Passekeag, N.B. "The message is almost it doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter who you know, you still have to do it all yourself. A pair of willing hands is all you need. It's kind of an inspiration to people."

The book is also a behind-the-scenes look at the way things were in professional wrestling, with pages and pages of Hart's anecdotes.

"Someone had to make a record of these stories before they all disappeared," says Erb. "I asked (Hart) if it sounded like the way it was and he said, 'Yeah, it does."'

The recent hardships experienced by the Hart clan were all late additions to the book.

The tragic death of Owen Hart in a wrestling stunt mishap and the lawsuit against the World Wrestling Federation that followed, the sudden passing of Stu's beloved wife Helen and the controversy surrounding daughter Diana Hart's tell-all book all altered Erb's original vision of the book.

"As it went along things just mushroomed," says Erb. "When I was doing this thing it seemed like it was never going to end. I wanted to make sure it got done, I wanted to see it in Stu's hands."

Erb isn't expecting any of the legal trouble that greeted Diana Hart's book Under The Mat: Inside Wrestling's Greatest Family. The book was pulled off the shelves in January as part of the settlement in a threatened libel suit launched by Martha Hart, Owen's widow.

"I don't think I've slurred anybody, I don't think I've treated anyone unfairly," says Erb.

Now that the book is finished, Erb is also planning to show the finished product to her peers on the Court of Queen's Bench.

"They don't really know what it's about and they go 'you wrote a book about wrestling?"' she says with a smile. "They're trying to wrap their minds around it. 'You're this Court of Queen's Bench judge and you wrote a book about wrestling!' There's never any connection between anything I do.

"I just do what's interesting."

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