Wrestling Fans Rush to Bookstore

Oct 10, 2008 9:38 AM. All work by , ,

BOSTON—"I've been a wrestling fan for about 35 [years]...my son said to me last night, 'Bret Hart's is doing a book signing at B.U.' I just had to go."

Not something you'd expect to hear from a working mother of three, but that's exactly what you'd get if you stopped to chat with Claudia Carney, one of the first people in line at the signing of Bret Hart's new book, "Hitman." The retired wrestling entertainer signed books for over 200 adoring fans at the B.U. Barnes & Noble last night.

Carney pulled out a fading photograph that she asked Hart to sign. The picture was of her and her three smiling kids with Hart, fifteen years ago. Carney’s son, who told her about the event, still shares her passion for wrestling.

"And this little youngster is now a 27-year-old who goes to everything," she said as she pointed to him in the picture. Carney’s son bought her Hart's book for Mother's Day, which she said she could not put down. "I literally stopped short, I was like, I have to slow this fun-journey down," Carney said. "I just have to because it's almost over!"

Carney arrived two and a half hours early for the event to secure her spot in line, but others were not as lucky. The marquee of wrestling enthusiasts wrapped around humor section, through the social sciences and between current affairs — a span of roughly two-thirds of the wall space on that floor of the store.

The chatter among the crowd kept focused on Hart and wrestling. Questions of whether Hart could still put someone in a headlock, what his best move really was or whether he’ll accept an apprentice were passed about in whispers. None of the fans challenged Hart to an arm-wrestling contest, but a handful had a picture taken while in Hart’s trademark “sleeper hold.”

When asked if he would put the wrestling superstar into a headlock when he made it to the front of the line, Northeastern graduate James Brown did not hesitate for a second.
“Nope, not gonna do it,” said Brown, confidently. He and friend Bobby Imperato drove from Saugus, Mass. to meet Hart, whom they said, still has some fight left in him. Brown said he has no questions for Hart, whom he met 10 years ago in Boston. Brown, 22, and Imperato, 23, said they have been fans of wrestling since they were seven years old and that wrestling was a major part of their childhoods. When asked if they had any questions for the graying superstar, the two said they just wanted to say “thanks.”

“Just for signing the book, being willing to take the picture,” said Imperato. “Just for being here!”

The pair said they were confident that last night was Hart’s last time coming to Boston, and that this was their opportunity to see him one last time. Perhaps others in the room felt the same urgency, because the number of attendees almost doubled what the bookstore management expected, said Trade Department Manager Lisa Eaverone.

“We expected at least 100, but we weren’t sure how many more than that would come,” said Eaverone. “We’ve had some wrestlers before and we expected a big crowd from that past experience.” Triple H and Chris Jericho have come to the bookstore within the past two years and have helped it stand out as a successful stop for wrestlers.

“Just like last time we other wrestlers, we had [people bring] belts,” mentioned Eaverone. “That wouldn’t be weird to a wrestling fan, but it’s so unusual to see that in a bookstore.”

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