Pro Wrestler Davey Boy Smith Jr. (aka Harry Smith) Talks MMA and Catch Wrestling Crossover

December 28, 2014
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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 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. 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. 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.

SEE ALSO: Catch Wrestling Expert Jake Shannon Weighs in on Sport’s Crossover into MMA

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. 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. 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…

  • Darin

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with pro wrestlers coming to mma, I just have a problem with the extra attention they seem to get. When a highly credentialed legit wrestler comes, nobody talks about them until they have a couple impressive wins. The same should apply to fake wrasslers. They shouldn’t be making headlines until they win real fights.

    • Gary Fredericks

      Not to be condescending, but you cannot figure this out Darin??? What better way would you gain an MMA fan from wrasslin’ or even a casual fan that simply knows said wrassler’s name? Since there is no TRUE pro wrestling, Olympics are 4 yrs apart, and all recent attempts at legit pro wrestling have failed or are one and done, how would ANYONE outside of wrestling families or the small numbers of NCAA wrestling fans even know who these guys are? You could ask 100 people if they knew who a guy like say, I dunno, Henry Cejudo is (prior to his UFC signing…and maybe still!) and have a 100 people that have absolutely no idea who he is, what he has done, or why you are asking about him. Ask anyone who CM Punk is to these same 100 people and I bet half know or have heard his name. Try it with a known MMA commodity such as Ben Askren, who has ascended to the pinnacle the sport of legit wrestling has to offer in the form of the Olympics, and you may get 1 or 2 people that heard of him. So, that being said, the fake wrassler’ is going to bring in far more name recognition with far more people interested in him because of it. Wrasslin’ fans by and large are not fans of wrestling and simply like the storyline drama displayed each week. Some have become legit celebrities and that is why they get far more attention….attention that Dana White and Scott Coker crave and a key component to making their respective companies money. Dana White and the Fertitias sure didn’t buy the UFC to create a legitimate and fair sport….everyone forgets that. They bought it in hopes of creating the next big cash cow through the illusion of sport.

      • thomas


        • thomas

          You fat bastard. You will never have an 8 pack. I hate your pimply face.

          • Gary Fredericks

            Thank you for your thoughtful insight and addition to this topic thomas. It has inspired me to donate to an educational fund as a philanthropic endeavor.

    • Patrick Hoenigk

      you should differ. pro wrestler can be misleading term. whoever has a background in real competition catch as catch can wrestling is legit man. Dont confude the hold shown in pro wrestling as fake. the show is fake but that doesnt mean that all pro wrestler are cans.
      Davey is one of the few legit grapplers these days in pro wrestling/sports entertainment. As is Brock or Del Rio for that matter.

      Catch wrestling always has been a legit sport until it kind of morphed over the years into a spectacle. But the holds and hooks are legit my friend