If Harry Smith’s name doesn’t ring a bell, you might know him better from his time in World Wrestling Entertainment as David Hart Smith or currently as Davey Boy Smith Jr. in the National Wrestling Alliance and New Japan Pro Wrestling.
A third generation from the legendary Hart family, Smith has not only grown up around professional wrestling and chosen that path to go down for a career, but he’s also extremely well-versed in catch wrestling and MMA, having trained with legends in both sports.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com from his native Canada during a break in his hectic travelling schedule, Smith discussed his interests in catch wrestling and MMA, as well as his famous family and what he’s got coming up in 2015.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Harry, is it pretty much a given you would be into combat sports given your family’s history?
Harry Smith: My grandfather (Stu Hart) was an Olympic wrestler and knew some catch wrestling as well. He was supposed to go to the 1912 Olympics and something happened, so he ended up not going. He started his own wrestling promotion in 1948, but he always loved the submission style wrestling. I think it was just in my blood from him.
Being a professional wrestler in Japan, there’s a pretty close tie over there to MMA as well. A lot of Japanese wrestlers have done MMA. It mostly comes from my grandfather. Then there’s the interest from my father (Davey Boy Smith Sr.) wrestling in Japan before and a lot of MMA guys pro wrestling in NJPW. That’s where the big interest comes from.
MMAWeekly.com: Scientific Wrestling’s Jake Shannon told us you’re quite involved in catch wrestling.
Harry Smith: I got to train quite a bit with Billy Robinson, and he was actually one of (Kazushi) Sakuraba’s first coaches, as well as (Kiyoshi) Tamura, (Nobuhiko) Takada, and others. I’m really lucky I got the chance to train with Billy Robinson and learned a lot of the secrets of catch wrestling from him. I actually learned enough that I got certified in catch wrestling as well.
My name isn’t so huge in grappling, so I haven’t done too many seminars, but the seminars I have done, people have given me a standing ovation and people have told me that they’ve learned a lot of great stuff, and that makes me feel good that I can carry on and spread the love of catch wrestling.
MMAWeekly.com: In NJPW you are part of Suzukigun, which is led by one of the founders of Pancrase in Minoru Suzuki. What is it like being on a team with him?
Harry Smith: I did get a chance to roll with him, and he said if we were the same size, we’d be good sparring partners. I don’t think he likes my weight advantage too much. He’s an awesome grappler. He’s been able to show me a lot of great stuff, a lot of leg submissions, and he has a very, very hard guard to pass. I did pass it, but it was definitely difficult.
Any time I can learn something from him, it’s awesome. He’s one of the best guys that I’ve been able to grapple with and roll with. Learning stuff from him is awesome. I would love to see him and Sakuraba in a grappling match these days, it would be something to experience.
MMAWeekly.com: In Japan it seems MMA and pro wrestling are more closely related than they are here in the U.S. and Canada, where there seems to be a real strong division between the two. What do you think?
Harry Smith: They are kind of close cousins over in Japan. One of the reasons I’ve had success in Japan is because I treat professional wrestling very seriously. That’s not to say that people here in North America don’t, but I feel that pro wrestlers need to be tough guys. It’s not just an act or whatever. When you know something to better for real, it will look better in the (pro wrestling) ring. The amount of conditioning that I’ve gotten from MMA has helped me out a lot too.
Japanese culture is very big with fighting. Whether it’s martial arts or wrestling, they have that real samurai spirit. It’s very influenced by…