The full nickname might not fit on a plaque, but in the professional wrestling world, he’s known as “The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.”
He’s also known as “The Excellence of Execution.” And “The Hitman.” On Monday, a special hometown celebration was held in Calgary to celebrate Bret Hart’s latest designation: member of Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Born in Calgary, Hart attended Ernest Manning High School and Mount Royal College before joining the family trade. Hart’s father, Stu Hart, is credited as having trained some of the top names in professional wrestling promotions, such as Edge and Chris Jericho.
The younger Hart went on to become one of the most popular professional wrestlers of all time. Now 65, Hart took the podium on Monday at the Victoria Pavilion in Calgary, a site that regularly hosted events for his father’s Stampede Wrestling.
“It means a lot to me that everyone came out for me today,” Hart said as part of his remarks on Monday, having received a standing ovation from the crowd in attendance.
Hart said that for him, the day brought to mind a quote from American-Canadian novelist John Irving: “If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life that you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”
Q35:32Canada’s Walk of Fame interview: Bret Hart
He said it would never occur to his five-year-old self, selling wrestling programs in the front of the Victoria Pavilion for Stampede Wrestling shows, that one day he would be recognized in such a way.
“It’s nice to see that pro wrestling finally gets a little bit of credit for being a performance art, which is what it really is,” Hart said.
“I’ve always felt that pro wrestlers have to be the world’s most believable, realistic, hardest-working actors while also being some of the most gifted and creative athletes in the world.”
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Canada’s Walk of Fame consists of a series of maple leaf-shaped stars situated along 13 blocks of sidewalks in Toronto. Previous inductees include a variety of Canadian actors, athletes, scientists and others.
Each inductee to the Walk of Fame receives a $10,000 donation to the charity or cause of their choice. As a part of his induction, Hart chose to split the money between the Siksika Nation’s SN7 youth program and the Water First charity, which is focused on providing access to safe, clean water in Indigenous communities in Canada.
Monday’s ceremony also included traditional drumming from Siksika’s Sorrel Rider Drum Group and a blessing from Elder Clement Leather.
Calgary singer Kaiya Gamble sang the national anthem and a song dedicated to Hart.
Ward 6 Coun. Richard Pootmans attended to deliver remarks on behalf of Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, recognizing Hart for his efforts out of the ring — including his philanthropic work, his championing of prostate cancer screening and his support of the Siksika Nation.
“Today is a true testament to his character,” Pootmans said, referring to Hart’s choice of charities for donation.
As part of his remarks, Hart said that for too long, professional wrestlers didn’t get the credit they deserved.
“I think that’s changed right now. And I think my mom and my dad will be looking down, quite proud of this moment.”