Canadian professional wrestler Bret Hart says he has prostate cancer and will undergo surgery "in the next few days."
Posting on his verified Instagram account, the Calgary-born grappler known as "The Hitman" said he was about to face his "toughest battle."
It is with great remorse that I feel compelled to speak truthfully to my friends, family and my millions of fans around the world. In the past few years, I've spent more than enough time paying the price for all those years trying to be the best there ever was as a professional wrestler. I executed excellently and my proudest claim was that I never seriously hurt or injured another wrestler in my 23 year career. I've paid a price for all that "fake" wrestling … Mark Helprin wrote: "We are all perfect clocks that Divinity has set to ticking when, even before birth, the heart explodes into a lifelong dance." I've had a great lifelong dance and I'm a survivor of many hard battles. I now face my toughest battle. With hesitation and fear, I openly declare myself in my fight against prostate cancer. In the next few days, I will undergo surgery with the hope of defeating this nemesis once and for all. My fans have always looked upon me as a hero and I've always done my best to live up to that in and out of the ring. 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. I make a solemn vow to all of those that once believed in me, the dead and the living, that I will wage my fearsome fight against cancer with one shield and one sword carrying my determination and my fury for life, emboldened by all the love that's kept me going this long already. Love is my weapon and I've got much of it around me all the time, for which I'm truly blessed and eternally grateful. My children, grandchildren, and my loving wife Steph have been and will constantly be at my side. I refuse to lose, I will never give in or give up, and I will win this battle or die trying. Most important of all, I hope can take the fight to prostate cancer. To be a leader in awareness and to set the example for men everywhere who find themselves in my very same shoes, that prostate cancer can be beaten. B x
Hart a history of battling serious illnesses.
He suffered a significant stroke in 2002 that left him partially paralyzed, but made a successful recovery.
Hart was born into a legendary wrestling family led by his father Stu Hart, the founder of Calgary's Stampede Wrestling promotion.
Monday's Instagram post had more than 8,000 likes within an hour of it going up.
"With hesitation and fear, I openly declare myself in my fight against prostate cancer," Hart said.
He made his debut in the WWF (now WWE) in 1984 and rose to fame as a member of the Hart Foundation with tag-team partner Jim (The Anvil) Neidhart.
Hart went on to win the WWF World Heavyweight Championship five times before an acrimonious split with the promotion.
He joined rival WCW, where he won the heavyweight title four times.
Hart has since mended fences with WWE and was inducted into the promotion's Hall of Fame in 2006.