You could say Pete Smith is a tough guy to pin down.

The UBC law student has a master's degree in criminology from Cambridge University and a summer job lined up at a big downtown firm.

But he's also chosen an unusual part-time job to pay his way through school -- he's a professional wrestler.

"It was a childhood dream of mine, one that I never outgrew," he says.

Smith fights under the name Randy Tyler, an alias given him by a promoter five minutes before he stepped into the ring for the first time at the age of 17.

At 6-2 and 215 pounds, he's on the small side for wrestling, where 300-pound behemoths in tights stalk the ring, but Smith has shaped a decade-long career with regular matches in Vancouver and Portland and occasional bouts in Japan.

When he enters the ring, fans taunt him by chanting "Archie! Archie!" because they think the redhead resembles comic strip character Archie Andrews.

"I pretend to hate it," Smith shrugs. "My job as the bad guy is to make sure that the good guy gets cheered loudly."

Some of Smith's fellow law students think his wrestling career is funny, others are impressed, but all are intrigued, he says. And of course he's always asked the inevitable question, "Is it faked?"

"It's more like ballroom dancing than a staged performance," Smith explains. "One guy leads, the other follows. The goal for both of them is to have a good match that people enjoy.

"It's certainly not as brutal as we lead people to believe, but matches are very competitive -- that's what most people don't realize."

Isn't Smith afraid that the legal profession will look down its collective nose at his exploits in the ring?

In fact, Smith thinks it has helped advance his career. Although he thought long and hard before putting it on his resumé, the response was positive.

"You'd be amazed at the interest it generated," he says.

Interviewers were as fascinated with wrestling as they were with his academic credentials, and the second-year student came up with several summer job offers.

Smith's fellow wrestlers, who have names like The Hammer, Moondog Manson, Prince Aladdin, Loverboy and Vic Vicious, are just as mystified by his academic life.

"I'm a total anomaly to them. They're pursuing their dream of making it big and they don't know what to make of me. Some of them will give me a funny look and say, `What are you doing here?'"

But Smith enjoys the camaraderie of the ring and the cheers of the crowd so he will continue to wrestle -- at least as long as the demands of a law career allow.

So until he's called to the bar, it will be no holds barred for Pete Smith.