Grizzly Smith Death – Alzheimer’s Disease
1932-2010 (Age 77)
The game show Jeopardy! needs to have a category for first-generation wrestlers (call it “Famous Fathers”) and when it does, you’ll know the answer to this one, “This wrestler nicknamed after a grizzly bear was the father of three wrestlers.”
If you answered, “Who is ‘Grizzly Smith’” you are correct, and as always, be sure to phrase your answer in the form of a question.
If you’re wondering who the three wrestlers are, they are Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Sam Houston, and “Rockin’” Robin.
Born Aurelian Smith on August 1, 1932, Smith grew to become giant of a man, standing 6’8”, an unmatched height in the U.S. during Smith’s heyday of the 1960’s.
Aurelian adopted the apt nickname of “Grizzly” Smith and enjoyed a fair share of success. Smith began wrestling in the late 1950’s, forming a tag team with Luke Brown known as the Kentuckians. The Kentuckians’ arch-rivals were the Assassins, a masked heel team that was a big draw.
According to Dave Meltzer’s June 30, 2010 obituary of Smith, the Assassins came up with the idea of Smith and Brown as two big men who while lacking in wrestling skills, were so big and strong that they couldn’t be taken off their feet.
The Kentuckians worked around the United States but also traveled to Japan, competing against Antonio Inoki and Hiro Matsuda.
While “Grizzly” was best known for his tag team work, he had a memorable program with Freddie Blassie in Georgia during the early 60s.
After retiring from the ring, Smith continued working, this time as a road agent and booker for Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling during the 1980s. According to Dave Meltzer, Watts sent Smith to book a rival promotion, paying the big man to book the promotion into the ground (a move that some fans still believe was repeated when Vince Russo left the WWF for WCW and made a number of ludicrous booking decisions).
Smith later worked as a road agent for WCW.
Jekyll and Hyde?
Depending on whom you ask, Aurelian Smith was a gentle giant who mentored wrestlers and offered counsel to those in need… or a monster of a man whose parenting abilities were sorely lacking and who had a fondness for young girls that likely would have landed him in prison had the events happened today.
Jake Roberts has gone on record in both the documentary Beyond the Mat and Jake “The Snake” Roberts: Pick Your Poison about his father’s neglect and how he never smartened his children up to wrestling being choreographed, causing trauma to Jake’s brother and sister.
Smith’s daughter Robin made startling accusations against her father as well.
Grizzly Smith Death
Like many people, “Grizzly” Smith lost it all when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. Smith almost lost his leg when he suffered a staph infection but rallied and pulled through.
Grizzly Smith was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and passed away from complications from the disease on June 12, 2010. He was 77.
Smith was survived by his children Aurelian Jr. (aka Jake), Michael (aka Sam), and Robin.