Former WWE superstar Thomas Billington, known as “The Dynamite Kid”, passed away on his 60th birthday. The exact cause of death remains unknown but the Lancashire-born icon had been battling a number of health issues for years.
According to the Mirror, the news of Billington’s death was confirmed by fellow British wrestling mainstay Marty Jones, who posted a brief statement on social media paying tribute to his former colleague.
Billington had been wheelchair-bound for over two decades and had also dealt with numerous heart problems since then. According to the Calgary Sun, Billington was confined to a U.K. hospital for several months after suffering a stroke in December 2015.
Born on December 5, 1958, the future Dynamite Kid started wrestling in his native UK at the age of 13 and moved to Calgary at 20, where he first made his name in North America with Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion.
By 16, he had become a big star on the UK scene, often working alongside UK wrestling legend Big Daddy.
Traveling to Canada four years later, Billington joined Stampede Wrestling, and later worked in Japan, before joining the WWF in 1984, where he and his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, teamed up as the British Bulldogs and spent the next four years as one of the promotion’s top tag teams. The duo won their only WWF World Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania 2 in 1986 and had several memorable feuds in the company, including a rivalry with former Stampede colleagues Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart, aka The Hart Foundation.
Billington suffered a broken back during a match in 1986, and while he was told that the injury could be career-ending, he continued teaming up with Smith until he left the WWF in 1988 on acrimonious terms.
According to Mirror, Billington’s alleged problems with steroids and other drugs furthered his decline and ultimately forced him to retire from pro wrestling as a full-time performer in 1991, despite only being in his early 30s at the time.
After making occasional in-ring appearances until 1996, Billington became wheelchair-bound the following year, having collapsed at home and lost the use of his left leg.
In addition to his paralysis, Billington also had a number of heart problems and WWE reported he had suffered a stroke in 2013.
Billington divorced first wife Michelle Smadu (sister of Bret “Hitman” Hart’s then-wife Julie) with whom he had two daughters, Browyne and Amaris, and one son, Marek, with in 1991. He moved back to England to live in Wigan after the marriage ended and would go on to tie the knot with Dot Billington in 1997.
Billington is survived by his second wife, Dot, and his three children, Bronwyne, Amaris, and Marek. His longtime British Bulldogs tag team partner, Davey Boy Smith, died in 2002 of a heart attack at the age of 39.
After his death, many took to social media to pay tributes to ‘Bulldog’.
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Dynamite Kid and Tiger Mask made me want to be in New Japan when I was younger. Even more so than the WWF. My first ever real job in wrestling happened to be New Japan, as soon as i graduated high school and turned 18. To say it was an honor to step into the ring in the company where these two guys built what we know today as “Cruiserweights” is an understatement. I’m very sad to hear that we lost Dynamite 🧨 🙏
I heard news that Tommy Billington also know as the Dynamite Kid has passed away.
Thank you for all the work you’ve done for our country and inspiring so many wrestlers to take a chance on themselves.
RIP Dynamite Kid. pic.twitter.com/yzQ74Swhhz
— ウィル・オスプレイ (@WillOspreay) December 5, 2018
Sad to hear about the passing of The Dynamite Kid. Just the other day I was watching this little gem of a music video.https://t.co/fHl3c5xnHi
A true pioneer and without a doubt one of the very best to lace up a pair of boots.#RIPDynamiteKid
— Flash Morgan Webster (@Flash_Morgan) December 5, 2018
It deeply saddens me to announce the passing of Tom Billington the “Dynamite Kid.” 😭😢🙏I was really happy and glad I got to see Dynamite one last time last June in the UK. 🇬🇧 ❤️🙏. Dynamite was certainly an inspiration to myself and many others and really revolutionized pic.twitter.com/req7CWTdxm
— Davey Boy Smith Jr. (@DBSmithjr) December 5, 2018
RIP Dynamite Kid… one of the greatest British wrestlers ever. pic.twitter.com/QA9PdW0qUN
— Philip (@PhilipHi1988) December 5, 2018
— Dave Mastiff (@DaveMastiff) December 5, 2018