By Ryan K. Boman, Editor in Chief
MAY 18, 2002 – Davey Boy Smith, also known to wrestling fans as The British Bulldog, dies of a heart attack in Invermere, British Columbia.
Born in Golborne on November 27, 1962, Smith began his career as part of ITV’s World of Sport program when he was still in his mid-teens. By the early 80’s, he had made his way to Canada, and Stu Hart’s Calagary-based Stampede Wrestling.
While there, he would feud with his real-life cousin, Tom Billington, known to fans as The Dynamite Kid.
Smith and Kid would soon form the British Bulldogs, and have a successful run in Japan before signing with the World Wrestling Federation.
The duo won the WWF Tag Team Championship in 1986, and were considered revolutionary for their powerful suplexes and tandem moves.
It appeared they would be the new standard bearer for the company’s loaded tag team division, before Billington would be forced out of full-time competition due to injuries. Smith would also depart the WWF at that time, before returning on his own in 1990.
Upon his comeback, he began working as a solo competitor, billing himself, singularly, as The British Bulldog.
He would go on to achieve tremendous success, in multiple stints with both the WWF and WCW. After spending years being considered part of a tag team, he emerged as a legitimate main event star and world title contender in the early 1990’s.
However, it was winning the WWF Intercontinental Championship in front of over 80,000 of his countrymen at Summerslam 1992 from his brother-in-law Bret Hart that will likely be remembered as the greatest moment of his in-ring career. Smith’s Wembley stadium victory has been immortalized in the annals of both WWE and British wrestling history.
He departed the WWF following ‘The Montreal Screwjob” incident and had a forgettable run in WCW, except for one particular moment: Smith would severely injure his back when he landed on a trapdoor that had been set up underneath the ring canvas to enable The Warrior to make an entrance during the main event. The result was a spinal infection that nearly paralyzed Smith, hospitalizing him for six months. He was terminated from WCW during his recovery time.
Upon returning to the WWF in 1999, he competed in the company’s hardcore division before departing again in late 2000.
On May 18, 2002, Smith died after suffering a heart attack while on vacation in Invermere, British Columbia. He was just 39 years old.