WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

S: Davey Boy Smith


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Davey Boy Smith



(Young David, The British Bulldog)




To the world he was the British Bulldog, a hugely successful British flag carrier to the corners of the world. The more elderley Heritage readers recall  a very young looking Young David, a scrawny kid some might unkindly say, who was tossed to the lions, namely the likes of John Naylor. The scrawny kid was destined to cross the Atlantic and emerge as Davey Boy Smith, the British Bulldog.

Born in Golborne (near Wigan), on 27th November, 1962,  David claimed his name was actually "Boy" due to a clerical error when his birth was registered. Whether or not that's true, or just a bit more wrestling codology, we wouldn't know.  Trained by Ted Betley Young David followed in the footsteps of his cousin, Dynamite Kid, into the wrestling rings of Britain. His young looks made him a popular addition to the ranks. Only fifteen years old when he made his television debut in September, 1978, his opponent, to us, seems slightly odd. Opposition was provided by Wonderboy Steve Wright; an odd choice because he too was another up and coming youngster being given a push by the promoters. We would have expected the fifteen year old to have lost. No one would have been surprised and he would not have been discredited. Yet the match went to a very entertaining draw. Two stars were born.  It wasn't long before David was recruited to the long list of Big Daddy tag partners. Not the best of career moves, but at least he learned to take the bumps. 

To be fair the Big Daddy tags did Young David no harm as far as as singles career was concerned. His push up the ranks continued with a televised win over British welterweight champion Jim Breaks at the beginning of December, 1979. This was followed by a title match, again televised and broadcast on 29th December, 1979. In a controversial finish Young David took the required two falls with the result disallowed due to Breaks being distratcted by Young David's mentor, Alan Dennison.

Young David became Davey Boy Smith and in 1983 he followed cousin Tom across the Atlantic, initially working  for Stu Hart Stampede Wrestling Promotion in Calgary. Dave trained with the Hart family and was promoted to a Calgary headliner during and following a feud with cousin Dynamite Kid Tommy Billington. In 1984 David married  Diana, the youngest daughter of Stu and Helen.

From Canada he went on to Japan in 1983, working for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Shortly afterwards Dave and Dynamite joined forces as  the British Bulldogs, partnered by cousin Dynamite Kid Following Japanese success were signed by the WWF, later  accompanied by their bulldog mascot, Matilda.

To say that Davey (and Bulldog's) time in North America was stormy would seem an under-statement. We have no first hand knowledge of Dave's wrestling in  North America or Japan but his success is well documented elsewhere – a WWF champion in the 1980s and 1990s, defeating  Bret Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Championship in the main event of SummerSlam 1992.

Wrestling fan SaxonWolf: "The British Bulldogs were my favourite tag team, when WWF started taking over the wrestling world.  Not just because they were Brits, but because they (along with the Hart Foundation) had a perfect blend of speed, power and skill, and they could wrestle in any style. When Davey had his solo run as The British Bulldog, it seemed like the world was his oyster, he was popular with fans all over the world with that big smile of his.
Behind the scenes, all was not well, as we know, and he died way too young."

David returned to Britain in January, 1994, replacing Big Daddy as Max Crabtree's main attraction. British wrestling was in near terminal decline and David could not halt the process. He returned to the WWF in 1994 and worked for the WWF and WCW until 2,000.

With a body abused down the years David Smith tragically died on 18th May, 2002, aged just 39 years.

Page added 6/05/2021