Davey Boy Smith
Davey Boy Smith was born November 27, 1962 in Golborne, England, to parents Sid Smith and Joyce Billington. Sid and Joyce already had one son, Terrence, before Davey was born. Davey was born in his parents’ flat (apartment) on Leigh Street, and his birth certificate was filled out by hand, where his name David was right next to the sex of the baby (boy) was written, and David Boy became Davey Boy.
Although born in England, Davey and his family emigrated to Australia until Davey was 5 when they returned to England. Davey’s mom and dad had two more children, daughters Tracy and Joanne. They later moved nearby to a council house where Davey’s father Sid still
In his childhood, Davey was struck by a severe case of measles in his eyes, and his eyesight was severely impaired. It improved somewhat over the years with the help of strong eyeglasses, which he was opposed to wearing. He wrestled largely on instinct, until getting laser surgery in his 30s.
Davey’s older first cousin Tom Billington grew up around the corner from the Smiths' home in Golborne. Tom Billington later became famous as the Dynamite Kid, a professional wrestler who left England and Joint Promotions British Wrestling for Canada (Calgary) to join Stu Hart and Stampede Wrestling in 1978. Davey followed him when he turned 18 and started with Stampede Wrestling in spring of 1981. Both Davey and Dynamite were trained by Ted Betley (Beckley) of Warrington. Davey also trained in the Snake Pit where North Englander Billy Riley, a respected grappler, had a catch wrestling school. It was one of the more raw and formidable submission wrestling schools around, consisting of an unheated barn and thin wrestling mats to roll
Davey enjoyed cricket, European football and Olympic diving as hobbies until he turned 15, which, at that time, was the earliest age a boy could become a professional wrestler in England. He left school to wrestle full time. In his precious spare time, he was keen on weightlifting, and trained often with Irish professional body builder Walter O’Malley.
Davey’s first big break in pro wrestling was tag-teaming with famous Big Daddy (Shirley Crabtree). At age 18, he got booked to work with his friend Steven Peacock in South Africa. Shortly after that, he traveled to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to work with his cousin Tommy for Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling. Later, he and Tom formed a tag team and began wrestling regularly in Japan, reaching a “god-like” status over there. The unique style that these cousins possessed made them a highly sought-after commodity. They had an English stubbornness, a Western-Canadian “big and strong style” of offense and defense, which was complemented with a
mathematical way of formulating their strategies for their matches.
When Davey first came to Calgary in late-April 1981, Diana met him in the front hall of the Hart House. They soon began a courtship. The two married in Calgary at the Hart House in October 1984, and their first child, Harry, was born August 2, 1985. Georgia, their daughter, was born on September 26, 1987, both in Calgary.
Davey Boy worked steadily for Stampede Wrestling and became remarkably close to the Hart Family, including living with Bret “The Hitman” Hart from 1981-84. He began training at BJ’s Gym, a powerlifting gym in Calgary, owned by BJ Annis who is married to Diana’ sister Georgia. He also began a close friendship with Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart, who was married to Diana’s sister Ellie.
By 1985, Davey and Dynamite had joined the WWF (now WWE) along with brothers-in-law Bret and Jim. Dynamite Kid’s then wife, Michelle, is the sister to Bret Hart’s then-wife, Julie. There are several strong family ties in the Hart Family and the wrestling world.
By 1989 Davey and Dynamite felt a break from the WWF was needed, and they returned to working in Japan and for Stampede Wrestling. Dynamite Kid moved back to England later in 1990 while Davey and his family decided to move to Florida.
Davey returned to WWF as a singles competitor. At this time, SKY TV (satellite television) took off like crazy in the United Kingdom and Europe. One of the big shows on satellite was WWF wrestling. Davey’s return to the WWF and its popularity in SKY TV helped make Davey a beloved household name in his home country of England.
In early 1991, Davey and his family relocated to Land O Lakes, Florida, moving just down the street from their family ties, the Neidharts. In 1992, a family feud ignited when Davey challenged his brother-in-law Bret “The Hitman” Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Championship. The battle was a stress point for Diana, who was caught in the middle. The bout took place at SummerSlam 92, at Wembley Stadium. With Davey and Bret advertised as the main event (an unprecedented decision by Vince McMahon, head of the WWF, because traditionally, a world title match would never be followed by an intercontinental title match), the show sold out in eleven hours. Over 80,000 tickets were sold in so short an amount of time that the British Telecom handling the calls had to shut down due to circuit overload. Davey defeated his brother-in-law Bret in under 45 minutes. Diana was at ringside and came into the ring after the wrestlers finally agreed to shake hands.
Davey left WWF later in the fall of 1992, joining WCW for a brief but successful run in helping them gain a foothold on the European wrestling scene that was dominated by the WWF at that time. Davey then began his own tour of the United Kingdom from 1993-94, and returned to WWF to be in brother-in-law Bret’s corner during a steel cage match.
Bret was wrestling his younger brother Owen Hart, who was flanked by his brother-in-law and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. Much of the Hart Family was at ringside. Davey and Owen (Davey’s brother-in-law) formed a tag-team, sometimes managed by Diana. In this same period, Davey won the European Championship title in Berlin, Germany, defeating Owen to win the title. It ended up causing another family feud, which was only extinguished upon the ignition of the Hart Foundation, of which Davey was a valued member.
The Hart Foundation was a wrestling powerhouse made up of members of the extended Hart family. It consisted of Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, Brian Pillman (who was trained by Stu Hart, served as Bruce Hart’s tag team partner in Stampede Wrestling and was considered to be close as family) and Davey. They were one of the most unforgettable factions in wrestling history, especially within WWF.
Davey left WWF during the tumultuous 1997 Survivor Series (sometimes referred to as the Montreal Screwjob). Davey paid a considerable amount of money to be released from his WWF contract in order to join his brothers-in-law Bret and Jim at WCW in early 1998. Later that year, at the WCW Fall Brawl pay-per-view, Davey injured his back after being body-slammed onto a steel trap door concealed under the ring canvas.
In November, still in incredible pain, Davey’s younger sister Tracy died at the age of 27 of cancer. As a result of his back injury, Davey entered a rehab facility in Grande Prairie, Alberta for seven weeks due to painkiller abuse. It wasn’t until nearly five months after the actual incident regarding the steel trap door, that it was discovered that the injury was a broken back and had become infected.
Only days out of rehab, still suffering, Davey’s mom Joyce sent for him. He flew home to Golborne only to see her to say goodbye. She passed away from stomach cancer in February 1999. She had kept it a secret from him because she was more concerned with his back pain and did not want to add to it. They were remarkably close.
Davey was hospitalized in March for the now-discovered broken back and infection. He remained in a body cast at Rockyview Hospital in Calgary for several weeks. Due to his inability to perform, WCW terminated Davey’s contract.
At a low ebb for the whole family, Owen Hart stopped in to visit Davey at his hospital bedside. Owen installed a private telephone and arranged communication between Davey and Vince McMahon personally. It was discussed that WWF would re-sign Davey to a contract and he would be working again in some capacity alongside Owen. Davey was immediately feeling like he was back in the game.
Sadly, his brother-in-law Owen died in an unfortunate and sudden ring accident barely two weeks after these well-met negotiations took place. Davey did go on to work with WWF until mid-2000.
Davey was still raw from the broken back infection, the deaths of his sister Tracy and his mum, had lost one of his best friends and was wanting to wrestle but couldn’t without being in pain. He went back to using, and then over-using, pain medication. By the fall of 2000, he was in rehab again, and eventually released from his WWF contract.
Davey wrestled with his son Harry as a tag team in Winnipeg, Manitoba in early May 2002 for the wrestling promotion RCW in early May 2002. Friday, May 17, the family spent much of the day together in Diana’s home in Calgary. He was going out of town for the weekend, and said would see them when he returned the following Monday. Sadly, Davey died early in the morning of May 18, 2002 in Fairmont, BC due to heart failure.
His legacy lives on through Diana and their children Harry and Georgia. Georgia is the CEO of British Bulldog companies, and has established thriving social media pages dedicated to her father and his legacy. Harry proudly wrestled around the world as Davey Boy Smith Jr, and is a key player in keeping his father’s legacy alive through his exceptional wrestling skills, much like his father’s. In the spring of 2021, Harry returned to the WWE after Davey's Hall of Fame induction in our hometown, Tampa Florida.
Courtesy of WWE