September 15, 2003
Harry Smith fulfilling family legacy
By JASON CLEVETT --SLAM! Wrestling
"A lot of kids his age are out partying and drinking and such, but Harry isn't like that," said his mother Diana Hart. "For him and TJ Wilson and other friends, their life really is wrestling. They spend hours studying tapes; Harry's bedroom is virtually all tapes."
"It's the most important thing in my life. I don't have the time, energy or desire to get involved with partying and such," said Harry.
Athletically, Harry has the tools to succeed. The 6-foot5, 220-pound star wrestles for Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, working with and learning from some of the best talent on the independent scene. His athletic pedigree dates back to his namesake. His maternal great-grandfather "Handsome" Harry Smith was a track athlete. Add to that the legacy of the Hart Family, Smith has big boots to fill.
"I want to make them proud -- Matt, Owen, my Grandmother, my Dad, I know they are watching me and cheering me on."
"I see so much of Davey in Harry's wrestling style, it's scary sometimes," said Diana. He grew up wrestling daily with Ted Hart and TJ Wilson, but unlike those high flyers, his style is much more ground-based.
"I use a lot of mat wrestling and power moves like suplexes and such. I don't do much flying." Harry often pays tribute to his Dad by beating opponents with the trademark running powerslam. He also enjoys using Ted Dibiase's version off of the ropes, citing "The Million Dollar Man" as another major influence.
Both Harry and his father were subject of a story on ESPN.com that raised a few eyebrows. Discussing mostly his father's drug abuse and its contribution to his death in May 2002, it ended with Harry being quoted, "I hope to be as big as him someday."
"I knew what he was trying to do, and I was being careful about what I said. The last day he was here he asked me 'Do you want to be as big of a star as your father was.' That was my response. But of course, he took it completely out of context and made it sound like I wanted to be as big physically as him." Since the story was largely about Davey's steroid abuse to be big, many fans were concerned that Harry may take the same path.
"I've never taken steroids, I don't plan to. I loved my Dad, and yes he made mistakes, but I have learned from them. I won't go down that path."
Harry has had a great life thanks in part to wrestling. He has been all over the world, and attended a number of Wrestlemanias.
"I've been to 3, 8, 7, 11, 12, and 19. I thought this past year's was the best one that I have been to live out of all of them. I really enjoyed going to the shows, especially with my Dad."
He was there live with 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium for SummerSlam 1992 to witness his dad facing Bret Hart for the Intercontinental championship in a match many still consider to be one of the best ever.
"We were way up high in the nosebleeds, so they were just specks in the ring. The bell rang and I didn't know who had won, but then they played Dad's music and I could see him with the belt. I started jumping up and down I was so happy. He hadn't told me he was going to win the belt, so it made it that much more special to see."
There have been a number of books written on the Hart Family in the past few years. The books all chronicle how when growing up the 12 Hart children were often harassed and teased about Stu being a wrestler and had to defend themselves on the playground in scraps. Smith hasn't had the same pressures of having a famous Dad simply because he doesn't mention it.
"They don't know at school that I wrestle or that my Dad was a wrestler. I don't make a big deal out of it, so I haven't really been teased growing up like my Mom and her family were."
The future looks bright for Smith. Many experts feel that the day he graduates high school he will have a WWE contract in his hand, but Smith would like to gain some more international experience before going there.
"I'd like to join TJ Wilson in Japan. He talks so highly about going there, and my dad wrestled there, so I definitely want to experience that." In the meantime, Smith continues to wrestle for Stampede Wrestling.
"There is so much talent here, I learn every match. Guys like Johnny Devine, Apocalypse, Dave Swift, Jason Carter, Ted & TJ, and so many others are just fantastic to wrestle."
Also listed on Harry's resume is a tag match against Black Dragon and AJ Styles a few weeks before Styles won the NWA championship, as well as a match on a Matrats show against Rene Dupre, now one half of the RAW Brand tag champions La Resistance. There are a lot of similarities between the two men. Dupre is a second-generation wrestler from New Brunswick, and also started wrestling at a young age.
"Rene is a nice guy. I'm glad to see he made it to the WWE and I hope he succeeds there."
Stampede fans have witnessed Harry in many great matches against a wide variety of talent. But for him, two matches stand out as his favorite.
"I teamed with my Dad for a couple of matches for Top Rope Championship Wrestling in Manitoba about a week before he died. That was my favorite match, for obvious reasons," he said.
Part of the appeal in Harry is his sense of humor; he is quickly becoming as expert a practical joker as his father and uncle Owen were, and he is a down-to-earth personality. Davey was well liked by wrestlers for his sense of humor and was always approachable for fans. These qualities Harry embodies, and will continue to do so as he continues down the path to fame.
"Wrestling is my life. This is what I do, but I won't get a big head about it. I just want to continue to do well and make my family and friends proud."
Jason Clevett has known Harry Smith since he was 10 and is amazed at
how tall the runt has become. He lives in Calgary and regularly cheers
on Harry and the rest of the Stampede stars at the Bowness Sportsplex
every two weeks. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.