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  May 24, 1999

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Hart was 'sweetest guy you'd ever meet'

By JOHN GLEESON -- Winnipeg Sun
  Despite the risks of the profession, the death of Owen Hart came as a terrible shock to Winnipeggers with ties to the World Wrestling Federation.
 Don Callis, a former WWF manager and commentator who went under the stage name The Jackal, said he heard the news from a friend calling about Star Wars tickets.
 At first he was skeptical.
 "With wrestling you're automatically in disbelief, but when I heard how it went down I knew it was for real," Callis said last night.
 "You just don't think something like this could happen."
 Local WWF promoter Bob Holliday said he was "sick" when he heard his friend had died after falling 18 metres into the ring during a show in Kansas City, Mo.
 Holliday described Hart as a "perfect gentleman" who had a penchant for practical jokes.
 "Owen was the king of the ribbers. He pulled jokes on everybody in the WWF including me," Holliday said.
 One time he had the Winnipeg-based promoter chasing a fictitious reporter from "Prairie Home Living Magazine" who was supposedly hassling wrestlers about being unco-operative.
 He even called Holliday on the phone, disguising his voice and impersonating the make-believe troublemaker.
 "Everybody was in on it, and he had me going for two days in St. Albert and Saskatoon."
 Another time he filled WWF president Vince McMahon's temporary office in the San Diego Arena with goats and pigs borrowed from the Godwin Family.
 And just last month after Wrestlemania in Meadowlands, N.J., Holliday watched as Hart slid the bolt on a door and locked WWF's computer techs into a room.
 Just for the fun of it.
 But Hart was more than just a practical joker.
 "He didn't drink. He didn't smoke. He was devoted to his wife and kids," Holliday said.
 After retirement, Hart planned to get his phys-ed degree and go into teaching. He was going to assess his future in three years when his WWF contract expired.
 "He was the sweetest guy you'd ever meet," said Callis. "He was one of my very favourite people."

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