Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, a professional wrestler who was part of the Hart family wrestling dynasty and is the father of World Wrestling Entertainment star Natalya, died Monday at age 63, the WWE announced.
A two-time World Wrestling Federation tag team champion as part of the Hart Foundation with real-life brother-in-law Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Neidhart was a highly recognizable character in the late 1980s and early ’90s, unmistakable with his goatee and pink garb. Bret Hart said he was “stunned and saddened,” at the news of Neidhart’s death. “I just don’t have the words right now.”
Neidhart was known to younger audiences for his appearances on “Total Divas,” the wrestling reality show, and for being Natalya’s father as well as the father-in-law of Tyson Kidd, a former World Wrestling Entertainment performer.
A Florida native, Neidhart took up wrestling in 1979 after playing preseason football for the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, training with WWE Hall of Famer Stu Hart in the Hart Dungeon in Calgary and earning his nickname by winning an anvil-throwing contest. He married into the Hart Family when he wed Stu’s daughter, Ellie, and came to the WWE when it purchased Stu Hart’s Calgary Stampede Wrestling in the mid-’80s.
He left WWF for the first time in 1992, but returned with a larger Hart Foundation in 1996 and 1997 with three of his brothers-in-laws, striking a rivalry with Stone Cold Steve Austin. He is survived by his wife and daughters Jennifer and Kristen, in addition to Natalya (whose given name is Natalie). Citing the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, TMZ reported that he died after striking his had in a fall at his home in the Tampa area, with 911 audio it obtained describing a man having convulsions at around 6:30 a.m. Eastern.
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