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Davey Boy Smith determined to re-enter the wrestling ring

By RICK BELL Calgary Sun
July 4, 1999

A rainy weekday morning at B.J.'s Gym, jogging distance east from City Hall and the St. Louis Hotel.

A Jaguar roars up. The driver smiles and gets out. Davey Boy Smith, known throughout the world as The British Bulldog, is back where he belongs.

He works out, twice a day six days a week, and is now finished his new bodybuilding video. He gains lost weight and bangs the proteins and vitamins.

He feels no pain in a spine that's gone through hell.

We are witnessing the first step back from that day last September when Davey was slammed against a steel trap door in a World Championship Wrestling bout.

Davey, brother-in-law and one-time tag team partner of Owen Hart, is planning a return to wrestling, perhaps to Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation.


"I'm an addict to wrestling. It's almost like a drug. I've been down but I have always returned to the ring. It's the only thing I know -- working out and wrestling. That's all I've done since I was 10," says Davey.

"I love to make people laugh, I love to hear them cheer." Then he adds: "Owen and me would fool around in the ring. He was so comical with those funny faces."

Yes, Davey has seen much.

In the past months, Davey's 27-year-old sister died. His mom died. Owen died.

"I lost my brother-in-law and lost one of my best friends. Martha and Bret have the right to do what they want with the lawsuit. But I don't point fingers.

"I am still on good terms with both the WCW and the WWF. There is no personal animosity. I have nothing against Vince McMahon. I never badmouth a promoter. It's not my style. I never burn bridges."

He's come a long way.

Short weeks ago, Davey lay in a hospital, three crushed discs and a terrible infection.

He had a body cast from waist to neck. Every time he sat up, the cast would choke him. Davey hated it.

Then the letter came by Federal Express. Davey's wife Diana threw it on Davey's bed. The WCW had canned him. He was through.

Davey had wrestled two decades.

"I am not a bitter man. But if you put me in the ring when there's a trap door, tell me. I'm not injured because of clumsiness but because they were at fault."

Looking back now, Davey recalls his decision last fall to try and keep wrestling though something was wrong with his back. He felt the terrible pain. He was shying away from falls and getting really out of shape. Davey Boy Smith helps his son Harry during a workout.

There were the painkillers. Demerol. Morphine. He grew to depend on them.

By Boxing Day of '98, Davey had enough. He flew up to Grande Prairie to check in to rehab and get clean. A 28-day program. Davey stayed seven weeks.

Without the drugs, Davey felt the back pain again. He got an X-ray. The docs couldn't find anything.

His last week in Grande Prairie, Davey collapsed and flew back to Calgary. He went to Foothills and Rockyview, once going by ambulance.

Some thought Davey just wanted a fix.

The pain in his back got worse. Davey couldn't sleep. Sometimes he'd walk around all night at home, crying.

A chiropractor suggested a bone scan. The next thing Davey knew, he was in the hospital for almost two months with three crushed discs and a vicious staph infection. Davey even lost half an inch in height.

But Davey never, ever lost sight of the ring. He just kept saying: "I don't have a date when I'm back or who I'm going to work for, but I will be back one day."

After all, Davey had wrestled forever.

Growing up in England between Manchester and Liverpool, in the town of Golborne. Wrestling because his dad didn't want him smashing windows.

There was Ted Betley, his trainer from the age of 12, who looked, talked and acted like the trainer in Rocky.

There were the times Davey delivered fruit and jumped over the fences at every delivery just to get in shape.

There was Davey's first pro match at 15 years old. He ran 8 km to pick up the contract. "I would have wrestled for free."

At almost 18, Stu Hart brought him to Calgary. The wrestlers were so big. Davey thought he was in The Land of The Giants.

In his first match, Davey fought his cousin, The Dynamite Kid.

And, of course, there was Davey's fame as The British Bulldog and beating Bret Hart before 83,000 at London's famed Wembley Stadium. Lennox Lewis carried Davey's Union Jack into the ring.

Yes, he is determined to be back. The WWF, for its part, tells me it would welcome a call from Davey when he's ready.

"After my injury, a lot of the scandal sheets said I was all washed up. That really ticked me off. I want to show them all. "I'm not washed up. I'm not finished. "I'm not a quitter. It may be in a year from now or 20 years. But I'll never quit. I never have. I never will."

Davey then heads into the gym and takes a step closer.

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