Wrestler killed by 50ft fall into ring

PROFESSIONAL wrestling, the muscle-bound sport that in recent years has regained astonishing popularity with its in- your-face violence and sweaty profanities, was in mourningyesterday after the death on Sunday night of one of its best-known stars, Owen Hart.

Hart, the 33-year-old scion of a Canadian wrestling dynasty, apparently became detached from a harness as he was being lowered by cable from the rafters in the Kemper Arena on to the ring for a fight that was to be broadcast live on pay-per-view television. Hart, known as the "Blue Blazer", fell 50 feet.

Well accustomed to stunts that appear to go wrong but which have been carefully scripted in advance - just as the bouts themselves are meticulously rehearsed and never for real - the 14,000 spectators inside the arena were not surewhether the fall was an accident or simply part of the show.

Fans remained confused even as medical attendants rushed in to the ring and attempted to revive the fighter. Witnesses said Hart dropped like a stone and landed first on one of the padded corner posts that hold the ropes around the ring's edge. As his head hit the post, it was snapped back. He was declared dead shortly after the accident after being taken to a nearby hospital.

The tragedy is an unexpected blow to a sport which in the past decade has seen an explosion in its popularity. The World Wrestling Federation (WWF), which had Hart as one of its stars, now produces 15 hours of live television every week for an estimated audience of 35 million.

It is a revival that has not escaped controversy. Much more than just a sport, wrestling is now a swill of pyrotechnics, soap opera, rock music and, above all, maximum bodily violence. Groins are punched, chairs are smashed and lewdness is celebrated with prostitutes, swearing, homophobia and even simulated sex.

For now though, all attention is directed at Sunday's mishap in Kansas City. "We at the WWF are saddened by the tragic accident that occurred here tonight," the WWF President, Vince McMahon, said late on Sunday. Viewers at home werespared the drama. The cameras missed Hart's fall. As emergency workers tried to save him, the cameras showed only the reaction among spectators.

Hart was the son of Stu Hart, a former wrestler and promoter from Calgary, Alberta, who sent seven sons into the business.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor