Monday just got a bit more disappointing.
Former professional wrestler Bret “The HItman” Hart revealed, via a social media post, that he is battling prostate cancer.
The 58-year WWE Hall of Famer suffered a stroke in 2002 after staging one of the most impressive in-ring careers in the history of the sport. He is credited with helping to revolutionize the in-ring performance during the 1990s and the Hart family is still regarded as one of the most influential groups in the sport.
Hart, who held various wrestling championships in five decades from the 1970s to the 2010s, wrapped up his career with a total of 32 titles, including 17 held between the WWF/WWE and WCW.
Read on to learn more about Hart’s diagnosis, his medical plans for the future and his life outside the ring:
1. Hart Said He’ll Undergo Surgery Within the Next Few Days
This is Hart’s second major medical announcement after he suffered a stroke in 2002 following a bicycle accident. Still, he refuses to accept the odds against him, writing:
I beat the odds when I suffered my stroke in 2002, but it is now yet again, that I…stand unafraid and face the tough road ahead of me, I will march toward this destiny with his spirit chanting in my ear.
He also added that he is set to undergo surgery later this week, although he didn’t specify how long he has been fighting the disease.
According to the American Cancer Society, roughly 80 percent of prostate cancers are found in the local stage, meaning they haven’t spread to other parts of the body. The organization has also found that the five-year survival rate for local and regional cancer of the prostate is “nearly 100 percent.”
2. He Has Been Married to Stephanie Washington Since 2010
Hart surprised plenty of people when he tied the knot, for the third time, in 2010, marrying Stephanie Washington, a San Francisco native, who was just 27 years old at the time. Washington is now a prolific CrossFit athlete who played basketball during elementary and junior high school. She wrote that she’s been doing CrossFit for about two to four years and has “had a life changing experience due to CrossFit.”
Prior to marrying Washington, Hart was married to Julie Smadu for 20 years and the pair have four children together. In fact, the four hearts located on Hart’s right thigh represent his children, as do the four dots that follow his signature.
Following his divorce from Smadu, Hart married Cinzia Rota in 2004, but the pair split in 2007 after failing to agree where they should live.
3. Hart’s Brother Owen Died in the Ring in 1999
Wrestling was simply part of the Hart family. All seven of his brothers were either wrestlers or involved backstage and his four sisters all married professional wrestlers. However, none of Hart’s siblings were more famous, or more tragically lost, than Owen.
Owen Hart was a wrestling star in his own right, wrestling under both his own name and the moniker The Blue Blazer. A former world champion, Hart was a staple in the WWF’s In Your House pay-per-view series, but his career was cut tragically short when an equipment malfunction occurred during his entrance from the rafters at the WWF’s Over the Edge pay-per-view event on May 23, 1999.
Over the years there has been plenty of speculation as to what really happened to lead to Hart’s death, even a wrongful death lawsuit and book by his wife Martha Hart. It’s become one of the greatest tragedies in wrestling history.
4. His Biggest In-Ring Moment Came During the Montreal Screwjob
Throughout the course of his 23-year career, Hart was a part of some of the biggest moments in wrestling history, but none were, perhaps, nay bigger than the iconic Montreal Screwjob.
The moment, in which Vince McMahon fixed a match to rid Hart of his WWE championship before he moved to the WCW, is still one of the most controversial moves in the entire sport’s history. Here’s how it went down. The idea was for Shawn Michaels to put Hart in a submission hold and for Hart to force his way out. At least that’s what Hart thought. The real plan was for the referee to declare that Hart had submitted.
It’s a moment so iconic that the WWE even produced its own documentary on it, but Hart’s interview with Sports Illustrated shined further light on the match. He described the post-match scene, in which he punched McMahon:
It was the most beautiful uppercut punch you could ever imagine. I actually thought it would miss and go right up the side of his head, but I popped him right up like a cork was under his jaw and lifted him right off the hand. I broke my right hand just beneath the knuckle, and knocked Vince out cold.He thought he would come out of that OK, but he didn’t plan on an upper cut. They dragged Vince out of the room and it was pretty much done.
Hart retired as a full-time competitor in 2000 and, partly because of the Montreal moment, did not return to the WWE for nearly a decade.
5. Hart Has Written a Newspaper Column & Appeared on TV Since Retiring From Wrestling
Hart isn’t simply an in-ring talent. In fact, he’s a prolific writer and contributing a weekly column to the Calgary Sun from June 1991 until October 2004.
He also penned his own autobiography titled, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling as well as a joint book with longtime friend Marcy Engelstein. Hart’s health problems kept the book on the metaphorical back burner for quite some time, but it was finally released in September 2007 and documented his life in professional wrestling.
While he was still wrestling, Hart appeared as a prison inmate in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, however his scene was eventually deleted from the final cut of the film. He also appeared on the TV series Lonesome Dove from 1994 to 1995 and guest starred on nearly half a dozen different shows during the decade.
Lastly, after retiring from wrestling, Hart took his talents to the theatre, appearing as The Genie in a production of Aladdin, a role he later reprised in the Canadian Touring production in 2006.