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Gary Hart, Dead At 66

Photo Credit: Slam Wrestling & Greg Oliver

A man who was one of the true giants of wrestling in the state of Texas died yesterday. Gary Williams, better known to fans as Gary Hart returned home yesterday from an autograph signing session in Euless, Texas before dying in his sleep.

I only met Gary face to face once. It was in 1999, shortly before his retirement. At that point he was very jaded, and in my opinion (of course I was a dumb ass kid in his early 20s) negative about the state of business. I conducted an interview with him - which opened my eyes to a lot of the problems in professional wrestling. The politics, the back stabbing, the lack of trust. At the time, I didn't want to belive everything he was saying, but as the years rolled on, I realized this man had taught me so much inside of 15 minutes.

The most unique thing about that interview was when he tried redirecting my own questions ... asking what I thought about the state of wrestling or a particular worker. Then he asked about my interests outside of wrestling, and asked why I didn't follow those. He said "I don't follow basketball religiously, but the business has got to be cleaner than this".

Gary Hart was a staple in World Class wrestling as a booker and manager. He started wrestling in 1963 but turned his attentions to managing just a few years later. Not blessed with natural athletic gifts, Hart did in fact have a unique mind for the business and a rock solid grip on wrestling psychology.

The fact that he never had a run in McMahon-land leaves him as a very under rated commodity in the grand scheme of this sport's history. Make no mistake though - his gifts to all of us were plenty and significant.

It was Gary Hart booking the original feud that made WCCW: The Von Erichs and The Freebirds.

It was Gary Hart who gave Virgil Runnels the name Dusty Rhodes and the American Dream moniker.

Abdullah the Butcher once said, he got the idea to stash a fork in his gimmicks, from Gary Hart.

We're just hitting the tip of the iceberg here folks.

Here's a partial list of the men who Hart managed over his career that spanned 4 decades:

Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper, Low Ki, Homicide, Great Kabuki, Bruiser Brody, Brian Adias, Chris Adams, Toru Tanaka, Don Kernodle, Buzz Sawyer, Mark Lewin, Big John Studd, One Man Gang, Al Perez, Nord the Barbarian, Jeep Swenson, Kendo Nagasaki,
Abdullah The Butcher, Ivan Koloff, Bob Orton, Jr., Killer Tim Brooks, Dingo (Ultimate) Warrior, Dick Slater, Terry Funk, The Great Muta, Rod Price, John Tatum
Ron Garvin, Kevin Sullivan, Larry Zbyszko, The Spoiler, Pak Song and so many more.

It's truly a who's who of the business. Hart worked with all of them, and affected their careers by imparting his ideas, his views and his creativity.

I know Tha Hall O Fame is not designed to allow for career managers, but Hart may be the one exception that makes the rule.

Gary Hart will be missed.

4 comments: on "Gary Hart, Dead At 66"

D.J.B. said...

RIP Gary.

That resume is one of the most impressive I've seen, and to know he booked the Freebirds and Von Erichs and knowing about the Dusty name make him one of the guys that made the business go round.

MutaBusa said...

I remember Gary binging The Great Kabuki into WCCW from Mid-south. First teaming with The Magic Dragon and then teaming with Checkmate. I remember the interview where the WCCW announcer was interviewing Hart about Checkmate coming into WCCW, Hart seemed legit HEATED that the announcer scooped him "How do YOU know about Checkmate?!?!"

And the heel stable of H&H, Gary Hart and Armand Hussein. Good times from the Sportatorium. The Wrestling industry will miss you Gary Hart, few have ever possessed the vision for the business like you had.

Anonymous said...

A true icon of the sport shown here, had a lot to do with the greats of the game, he'll be really missed.

Anonymous said...

yo donnie, hat happened to chop fest trivia?

it should be amongst yourself, frank, and danny.

The guest wrestler or smark should give the questions and loser gets the chops!

and make the segement theme song ...a clip of fatty getting that wedgie and chopped...

cmon man! I'll buy some evo!

mk: "kayfaaaaaaaabe"