In Funk's Corner

Wrestling With the Past

Bret Hart


Bret Hart

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There is nobody who has accomplished more from where he was at the time
I met him to where he is now than Bret Hart. It could not have come easy.

Bret Hart earned his way to the top of the WWF with great wrestling matches.
At one point in his career in a telephone conversation he told me, "I am going
to leave the WWF and they will ask me back."

My thoughts were how in the world could a wrestling company as powerful as
the WWF be in need of one individual. Af few months later, they did ask him
back and upon his return, Bret made one of the best interviews I have ever
seen on television.

He talked sincerely and straight from the heart about his feelings to the wrestling
fans. He was himself, The best there is, was, and will be.

The most interesting characters in wrestling are the real people, not a make
believe character created in the imagination of a script writer. Bret is for real.

I first met Bret when he was 13 years old. Owen was around 4. I am proud of
my relationship with the Hart Family. Following is a story reprinted with the
permission of the Calgary Sun.

WRESTLING WITH THE PAST

FUNK'S VISIT REKINDLES WARM MEMORIES OF GRAPPLING'S
GLORY DAYS

Saturday, February 23, 2002
Column: THE HITMAN
BY BRET HART

Back in 1970, when I was barely 14, Dory Funk Jr. had defeated Gene Kiniski for the NWA Championship.

He came up to the Stampede to accept a challenge from Billy Robinson on my dad's big show at the Corral. They wrestled
for an hour. It was one of the greatest matches of that era. It did huge business.

I'd been around all the world champions when I was a kid -- Lou Thesz, Pat O'Conner, Kiniski -- but when Dory Funk Jr. first
got here, no one knew anything about him.

It didn't take long before Dory was the most imitated guy in wrestling. He was, without a doubt, the best worker of his era.
Whatever wrestling was in 1970, and was destined to become, Dory defined it. The next generation imitated his smooth,
realistic style, the basic design of a match, how to call and build a match. Dory Funk did for wrestling what Bobby Orr did
for hockey.

What struck me about Dory, besides his wrestling, was how much he loved coming to work Calgary. He loved Stu. Loved the
Stampede. Loved being in the parade. Had so much fun driving to shows in small towns all over the prairies with the zany
characters on Stu's cards.

Dory is easygoing and has a great sense of humour. There was always a sparkle in his eye. At the same time, he had quite a
commanding athletic presence, exuding the confidence of a champion.

Before going home to Amarillo, Tex., Dory joined us for one of those legendary Sunday dinners at the Hart house and ended
up sitting with Stu in the kitchen for hours telling endless road stories.

On his way out the back door, Dory politely invited us down for a visit "sometime."

About a month later, my brothers Bruce, Dean and I piled into an old black Caddy convertible to drop in on Dory. I seem to
recall my mom handing me a $100 bill, which certainly wasn't a usual occurrence -- and in those days, the Canadian dollar
was worth more than than the U.S. dollar. I also recall spending half of it before we even got over the border.

In Wyoming, I was fascinated with the jackalopes -- these little rabbits with antlers. I'd never even heard of such a thing
before but there were visions of jackalopes everywhere! They even had stuffed toy ones for sale at the truck stop,
jackalope postcards ...

Somewhere in the 2,000 miles between Wyoming and Texas, it occurred to me I hadn't actually seen one single real
jackalope and I laughed when I realized they were but a fictitious invention of the tourism bureau. Too bad because they
were sure cool!

We made the whole hot and dusty drive non-stop and pulled into the police station in Amarillo to ask for directions looking
like something the cat dragged in.

"Err, we're friends of Dory Funk Jr."

"Suuure, y'all are," their condescending looks said.

They called Dory, who got a big kick out of it -- and took us Hart boys along on the road to show us the wrestling business,
Texas style.

Well, in El Paso ... or maybe it was Odessa ... or Lubbock ... Terry Funk, Dory's infamous younger wrestling brother, aka The
Texas Rattlesnake, talked Bruce into this idea. Terry was working with Dirty Dick Murdoch, a great performer who'd grown
up with the Funks. Bruce brought a big popcorn and a huge Coke and, on the way back to his seat, he flung them to the
ground as he charged past the genuine Texas police, who were stationed at ringside. Bruce then rolled under the bottom
rope and jumped on Dick like a crazed, lunatic wrestling fan.

Of course, this was all part of the show but nobody knew it, including me and Dean and the Texas police, who weren't
messin' around. Dick slammed Bruce and before anyone could stop it, Dick climbed up on the top rope and came crashing
down on Bruce, who pretended to be mortally injured.

The fans went nuts thinking one of their own had hit the ring and a riot nearly broke out.

Under cover of chaos, Bruce was quickly stretchered back to the dressing room and right out the back door, where he was
stuffed into the trunk of a car so the cops wouldn't see him.

"He ran out the back," all the wrestlers put on, pointing excitedly in that direction.

Meanwhile, brawny, scowling Texas rangers with their big brimmed hats looked down on me and Dean, still seated in the
front row, ourselves having no clue what the heck was going on.

"Where's your brother?" they firmly asked.

"Err, we don't know nothin'. We just got here from Canada."

We were lucky we didn't get arrested. Looking back, good rib, Terry.

Some of my greatest moments watching wrestling as a fan were watching the Funks.

And eight years later, having decided to lace up boots of my own, some of the greatest things I learned as a wrestler were
from watching the Funks.

Thirty-plus years later, the Harts and the Funks still share a rare friendship. Dory is in town this weekend, up to visit Stu.

Last I heard, they were back in Stu's kitchen telling stories about the good ol' days. It's nice to know some things never
change.


Funking Conservatory Head Referee, The Claw and Bret Hart.

E-mail Dory Funk
Visit Dory's Home Page
Join the Funking Conservatory
More Stories of the Hart Family