As announced on his Facebook page, “Wild-Eyed Southern Boy” Tracy Smothers passed away on October 28th. 

After battling lymphoma for years, he first publicly reported it in December 2019 and regularly updated everyone through his social media about his battle with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and looked forward to meet-and-greets in 2020 to promote his new autobiography co-written with John Cosper, titled If You Don’t Buy This Book, EVERYBODY DIES

Smothers had a rich wrestling life, debuting in 1982 after being trained by the legendary Fabulous Ones, Steve Keirn and Stan Lane. As to Smothers, Keirn said that he “didn’t know if he’d ever go anywhere,” but that he progressed, and was his first-ever student to succeed. “I thought the best way to teach somebody would be to wrestle them. That was the first lesson for me,” said Keirn. “Don’t let a wrestling student touch ya, because they don’t know what they’re doing!”

Some highlights:

  • The popular Southern Boys tag team with Steve Armstrong of the famed Armstrong family in World Championship Wrestling; they were also known as the Young Pistols
  • He was a feature performer in Jim Cornette’s Smokey Mountain Wrestling
  • In Extreme Championship Wrestling, Smothers was in the Full Blooded Italians faction with Little Guido and Tommy Rich [See our photo gallery of F.B.I.]
  • In the WWF, he was Freddie Joe Floyd

Originally from Springfield, Tennessee, he would never forget his roots as he always carried the Confederate flag with him to the ring.

In a 2007 interview in the Mountain Press, Smothers lamented not going all the way at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, where he played football. “I wish I would’ve finished college,” Smothers said. “I was going to be a coach.”

Instead, he coached wrestling.

Smothers was always willing to give a word of advice to up-and-comers. He had a hand in training future superstars such as The Brian Kendrick, Molly Holly and Daniel Bryan. He was lovingly called “Dad” by those he trained. 

His daughter, Jessie Belle McCoy, wrestles under the name Jessie Belle.

Over his 35-year career, Tracy would wrestle over 2,500 matches and hold over 25 different single titles and tag team titles. One of his matches that gained him nationwide attention was beating then WWF Intercontinental champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley by count-out live on Raw on September 23, 1996. 

Tracy Smothers and Little Guido at a fan fest in 2017. Photo by George Tahinos

On October 16, 2020, Tracy reported on his Facebook page: “Had to get admitted into the hospital due to my rapidly growing Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma tumor on the left side of my stomach. Also, has grown on the right side on my lung an left lung on my back. Fun stuff believe me, lol. They say Fear is the best for of motivation an I believe that to be true. I wrestled 3 different bears an I was petrified when I was young but cancer is more scary than that by far. Its relentless an is always lurking around. Positive attitude helps  an CANCER sucks especially w my heart condition. TY to all of my family, friends, etc. who have supported me in this fight cause its another heavyweight an HERE WE GO. Have a good weekend everybody an never give up on LIFE.” 

His last Facebook post on October 27, had Smothers saying: “In ER again throwing up Bile or Vile. Belly button hernia surgery aggravated the fast rising Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. Heart rate is high and Thyroid is out of whack. Other than that I’m just swell on a Wacky Wed. lol. Please Pray?”

His daughter Jessie Belle McCoy first reported on her Facebook page earlier in the morning on October 28th, “I’m feeling heartbroken.”

Tributes are starting to come in on Smothers’ Facebook and Twitter pages from wrestlers and fans alike. 

WWE: “WWE is saddened to learn that Tracy Smothers passed away today at the age of 58. WWE extends its condolences to Smothers’ family and friends.”

Edge: “Tracy Smothers took two young kids from Canada trying to “tour” the southern United States, with $1.50 a day to spend on food, saw a dilemma we put ourselves in to try and get experience, and took us under his wing. He knew we wanted it. Because of that, and his huge heart, he drove us to make the next town so we could eat our next meal. He found floors, couches or other talent who had spare space in their hotel rooms for us to sleep. On those drives he dispensed his knowledge. Always with a laugh and a twinkle in his eye. And we soaked it up. He was a great man. He truly knew what paying it forward meant. I will miss him.”

Jeff Jarrett: “RIP Tracy Smothers… 1st time I met Tracy I was 14 and he was 19…at the Nashville Fairgrounds and he was getting trained by Tojo Yamamoto and I was allowed to watch the training sessions every Sunday… Great talent and even better human being! #HighFive #HotterThanPopcorn

Ricky Morton: “My great friend Tracy Smothers has passed, it is with a heavy heart that I share the news. Lots of great times with Tracy, I had just spoke with him last week RIP my friend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of Tracy’s family and loved ones at this time.”

Bobby Fulton of the Fantastics: “I’m saddened to hear the passing of dear friend Tracy Smothers. Thanks for the years of friendship. Tracy & I had been checking in w each other every couple days regarding the health situation both of us are going through. This is another hard loss in the sport of pro wrestling.”

Randy Mulkey: “So sorry we had a great time Florida you will be missing one of the greatest person I’ll ever work with RIP my brother love you with all my heart”

Brian Last: “Really sad to hear about Tracy Smothers passing away. Was a really great guy & great wrestler. I was fortunate to get to know him at SMW Fan Week and we talked regularly for several years after, including Tracy staying at my house and taking the LIRR with me to his MSG debut.”

Taz: “Very sad to learn that Tracy Smothers passed. He was a great wrestler and an even better person. He was always cutting up and busting chops in the locker room…just a fun talented dude always smiling. A spectacular career wrestling everywhere you could imagine over his years!”

Eric Bischoff: “Sorry to hear about the passing of Tracy Smothers. I saw him last about a year ago. He was so happy in the ring. He was a good man. RIP Tracy.”

Bobby Blaze: “Deeply saddened to have heard about the passing of Tracy Smothers. Tracy was always so good to me throughout my career. He was one of the boys & one of the good ones. #love #RIP”

Luke Hawx: “My heart is so broken. Tracy was a damn good friend and would give anyone the shirt off his back. He had a tireless work ethic and would fight tooth and nail for his friends. Rest in Peace Tracy Smothers I absolutely love you and I’ll miss you dearly”