Hack-Man Pro-Wrestling Stu Hart Page

Last updated 21 April 2015

Pro wrestling on Prairies owes it all to Stu Hart

By Ned Powers

Television has turned the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) into a masterpiece of a sideshow, drawing the fine line between entertainment values and athleticism.

There's a big time influence on interviews and the character-managers who accompany the wrestlers. Then there's a match with slambang action and usually so short that the wrestlers don't work up a sweat. And there's a post-mortem filled with more threats against each other and promises of revenge next week.

The WWF is going into Calgary on Dec. 15 and the reason, on the surface, is they're going to pay tribute to Stu Hart, who was a topflight amateur wrestler from 1936 until he turned professional after the Second World War. He later became the architect of live wrestling on the Prairies, retaining Calgary as his base, having Al Oeming as a partner in Edmonton and Porky Jacobs as a partner in Regina and Saskatoon. The pros had some pretty decent runs in Saskatoon up until the point the downtown Arena was demolished.

Stu was born in a farm home just the outer edges of South Nutana in Saskatoon. He first attended school at Mayfair School and when he was six years old, he moved with his family to a farm at Forgan and still remembers the cattle hauls he made with his dad to Rosetown.

He was a natural athlete who played football, softball, and even some cricket. Wrestling was his strong suit. He was twice named to Canadian teams bound for international games, one trip to the British Empire Games being cancelled because of lack of money and another to the Olympics cancelled because of the outbreak of the Second World War.

Stu will be turning 80 years old this month and that is why the WWF is going to have it's party in Calgary.

He'll have two sons, Brett [sic] and Owen, on the card and quite likely, two sons-in-law. Stu and his wife, Helen, raised a family of 12. Helen's father was Harry J. Smith, a great American marathoner early in the 1900s and Jim Thorpe's roommate at the 1912 Olympic Games.

One of the first healthy signs for wrestling in Canada came when the CBC, just new to the television game in 1954, staged a match between Whipper Billy Watson and Gene Kiniski. The match triggered an outburst of fan reaction right across Canada, creating sell-outs in Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and Saskatoon among others.

Stu's days in sports coincided with the star quality of some tough Prairie boys. Earl McCready, who was British Empire champion in 1928, always advertised himself from Bures, Saskatchewan, a community close to Moose Jaw but no longer on the map. Al and Tiny Mills came out of Camrose, Gene Kiniski came out of Edmonton, Dave Ruhl came out of Hannah. Stu often wrestled on the cards as well.

The fact remains, however, that Stu and his Prairie pals worked in an era when the box-office returns weren't as lucrative as they are today. And work was a significant word. Seldom did the headlines work less than 20 minutes and there was a certain dedication to the sport.

The feats of his sons, notwithstanding, Stu will always be remembered by many friends on the Prairies as the man who possessed pure wrestling skills, helped hone many young athletes and built the foundation for the sport.

back to my home page

If you have any comments, I can be reached via email at Hack-Man@twc-online.com