Bulldog battling drug addiction
By RICK BELL -- Calgary Sun
His biggest fight is in no ring. It is in a simple room in a drug treatment centre in far-off Atlanta.
The truth is very simple too.
"I'm here to get better," says Davey Boy Smith, the man the world calls The British Bulldog. The man the treatment centre calls a morphine addict.
Davey Boy Smith's story is an inspiring tale worthy of a Hollywood screenwriter. Here's the working-class, Manchester-area delivery boy who worked his way to become an international wrestling star.
Yes, Davey Boy is a character right out of Rocky.
He had his back smashed against a trap door in the ring less than two years ago, three discs dissolved in a sea of infection. He was fired as he lay in a Calgary hospital bed. He lived to see the death of his sister, his mom and his beloved tag-team partner Owen Hart.
Many wrote him off. But Davey Boy would not throw in the towel. Never.
"I'm not washed up, I'm not finished," Davey Boy told the world last year, as he signed a deal with Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation.
"My strength is ungodly. I feel I could run through a wall. I'm an addict to wrestling."
But sadly, Davey Boy is an addict to much more, an inhabitant of a hideous hell by prescription.
Morphine. Painkillers. Muscle relaxants. Sleeping pills.
Davey did it all. He took the pills. He shot up. He needed a fix every couple hours to make the back pain from the wrestling ring go away. He would even wake up through the night to do the stuff.
Sometimes he would take the drugs at home, sometimes in his garage, sometimes Davey would go out.
Before long, Davey Boy needed a fix because he needed a fix. Davey didn't start off planning to be an addict, he just wanted to wrestle. That's what he knew how to do.
One night stands out in the memory of Davey's wife, Diana. Davey was in bed, out cold. He couldn't move and his bulky immobile body needed to be lifted up.
Davey had swallowed his tongue.
In recent weeks, Diana and some of Davey's friends tried to get Davey help. He refused. Then, last week, Davey was in Nashville. Four hours before ring time, Davey talked with Vince McMahon.
He'd reached the end.
"I felt weird. I felt myself really slipping. Things were really getting on top of me. I didn't want to die," says Davey Boy.
"I told Vince: I'm really not feeling too good. I don't want to kill myself in the ring. I need help. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where to go."
McMahon flew Davey to Atlanta that night and the wrestler checked in at the treatment centre.
McMahon will pay Davey's salary for the three months Davey is in the centre. McMahon will also pay the tab for the treatment, expected to be about $75,000 U.S.
"There's a job waiting for me," says Davey, who insists he'll be back in the ring sometime this summer.
So far, Davey has finished up the initial detox. Now he has classes all day. "I have to learn to live without drugs. I feel pretty good," he says.
"And a little bit tired.
"I'll start working out next week. Right now, I'm giving my body a rest. I came back before. I came back from a broken spine. I'll do everything I can. I don't want to let my family down or myself down or my fans down."
Yes, Davey's wife Diana plans to visit Davey when there's an open house and he's allowed visitors. She's convinced this is not her husband's last hurrah.
Davey says he's determined. He'll beat back the demons and kick the habit. He says he'll find the way.
It is then a voice in the background calls out to Davey, a voice in a place far from home and even further from the glitz and glamour of professional wrestling.
"My roommate says I've got a meeting in 10 minutes," says Davey Boy Smith, the man the world calls The British Bulldog. "I've got to go. I have to clean myself up."
And Davey says good-bye, ready to take on the biggest opponent of his life.