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Aurelian Smith

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Aurelian Smith (August 6, 1932 – June 12, 2010) was an American professional wrestler better known as Grizzly Smith. He was the father of professional wrestlers Aurelian, Jr. (Jake "The Snake" Roberts), Michael (Sam Houston), and Robin (Rockin' Robin).

After his wrestling career ended, he served for a time as a backstage official in the World Wrestling Federation and a road agent in World Championship Wrestling, as recounted in Mick Foley's book Have a Nice Day.


Smith began competing in professional wrestling in Texas, but he worked on an oilfield part-time as well. Smith also competed in Georgia, where he challenged Freddie Blassie for the NWA Georgia World Heavyweight Championship but was unable to win the title belt. While wrestling in Texas, Smith met Luke Brown, who he followed to Oklahoma. Smith, who had wrestled under the ring names Jake Smith and Tiny Anderson, began competing as Grizzly Smith, although he also wrestled as Tiny Smith. Smith and Brown formed a tag team known as The Kentuckians, and the pair used the gimmick of a pair of hillbillies. Together, they won the Georgia version of the NWA Southern Tag Team Championship in 1962 and held them until dropping them to Lenny Montana and Gypsy Joe on November 23 of that year.

The Kentuckians' biggest rivals were The Assassins, with whom they feuded in matches across the United States. In many of these matches, The Assassins were joined by The Missouri Mauler and The Kentuckians teamed with Haystacks Calhoun. The Kentuckians biggest win over The Assassins came while competing in the Los Angeles-based Worldwide Wrestling Associates on August 8, 1965, when they defeated their rivals to win the WWA World Tag Team Championship. They held the belts for several months before dropping them to Gorilla Monsoon and Luke Graham the following January. Later in 1966, Smith and Brown won the American Wrestling Association's Midwest Tag Team Championship.

Smith's feud with The Assassins also took him to Western Canada, where he teamed with Don Leo Jonathan to defeat The Assassins for the Vancouver version of the NWA Canadian Tag Team Championship. Smith, who was wrestling under the ring name Ski Hi Jones, and Jonathan held the title from March 25, 1968 until the following month, when The Assassins regained the championship in a rematch.

Smith then returned to Texas, where he was involved in a rivalry with The Spoiler. The two wrestlers feuded over the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship, which Smith won from The Spoiler in June 1968. The following month, Smith gained another title when he teamed with Fritz Von Erich to defeat The Spoiler and Gary Hart to win the NWA American Tag Team Championship. Smith and The Spoiler continued to feud, however, and The Spoiler regained the Heavyweight Championship in August and the Team Team Championship in September.

The Kentuckians reunited in the NWA Tri-State territory. In an April 1971 match that was scheduled to see Bill Watts and Billy Red Lyons challenge Waldo Von Erich and Karl Von Brauner for the Tri-State version of the NWA United States Tag Team Championship, Smith and Brown took the place of the challengers. They won the match and the title belts but were stripped of the championship later that month. They continued to pursue the belts and regained them later that month, holding them until a loss to The Spoilers later that year.

After retiring as a competitor, Smith promoted wrestling events in Louisiana alongside Jack Curtis. He then worked with Bill Watts in the Mid-South territory until being fired during a disagreement over wages. From there, he went to Mississippi to work with promoter George Culkin.

Personal life

Smith was born in Grayson County, Texas and grew up with a brother, who died at age four, and two sisters. He had two children from his first marriage, Aurelian, Jr. and a daughter. He later had two more children, Michael and Robin, from another relationship after he and his wife separated. Three of his children went on to become professional wrestlers: Aurelian, Jr. as Jake Roberts, Michael as Sam Houston, and Robin as Rockin' Robin. Smith briefly married again on June 22, 1992 this time to a woman named Michelle D. Hyde who was 24 years his junior. This marriage was short lasting and ended in divorce just over a year later on September 14, 1993.

Smith retired from wrestling and moved to Louisiana, where he shared a house with his son Michael in Metairie. Smith took on a job performing maintenance in a cemetery near New Orleans' French Quarter. The pair lost most of their possessions in the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They were able to salvage some footwear and canned food, but flooding destroyed the remainder of their belongings. Smith's health had been deteriorating for several years, and he developed a staphylococcal infection after scraping his leg the day before the storm hit. He was not able to get medical attention and almost lost his leg as a result. Smith died of Alzheimer's disease on June 12, 2010 in Amarillo, Texas.

Accusations from Jake Roberts

Smith had a strained relationship with his son Aurelian, Jr. (Jake Roberts), which Roberts stated was partially the result of his father not informing his children of the scripted nature of professional wrestling. In an interview on Jake "The Snake" Roberts: Pick Your Poison, a video released by World Wrestling Entertainment, Roberts stated that his father convinced the family that his injuries in the ring were real and wore a neck brace at home to sell a storyline. On the same video, Roberts also stated that he was conceived when his father, who was dating Roberts' grandmother, raped her 12-year-old daughter. He said that the two were forced to marry against their wishes and that the resulting emotional trauma is responsible for Roberts' substance abuse and his sister's mental health problems. At age 18, his sister married a man 35 years older than she was; the man's ex-wife later kidnapped and killed Roberts' sister.

In wrestling

  • Finishing moves
  • Signature moves

Championships and accomplishments

  • NWA Southern Tag Team Championship (Georgia version) (1 time) - with Luke Brown
  • WWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Luke Brown

See also

External links

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