More than any other man, Joe Smith was associated with the promotions of boxing
and wrestling in Bridgeport. For decades, he was the force behind the two sports in
the city, and had connections to the McMahon Family in New York, which helped him
attain top talent. Smith, known as "Smitty," was born on February 27, 1884 in New
York City, and by the age of 15, he was boxing as an amateur. He spent a lot of
time in "Hells Kitchen" and earned a reputation, and throughout a fistic career lasting
about 20 fights, Smith was never knocked out.
By 16 years of age, Smith was also managing and training other fighters, breaking
into that side of the sport as a runner for Tom O'Rourke. He later worked for Leo P.
Flynn, and helped many fighters in their preparations for upcoming bouts. While in
New York, Smith became associates with Jess McMahon, who ran three clubs in New
York. At one point, Smith accompanied one of McMahon's fighters, Tommy Houck,
to Bridgeport for a contest. Making contacts as he went, Smith was become well
known for his abilities as a trainer and handler.
Reportedly, in August 1935, Smith teamed with Jack Snyder to promote their first
wrestling program in Bridgeport at Newfield Park. At points, he worked with Jack
Pfefer and Vincent McMahon Sr., and remained in operation until the early 1960s.
Little known facts about Joe Smith: He was christened "Joe" and not Joseph. He
was also one of 12 children.
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