On Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, the British pro wrestler died on his 60th birthday, TMZ reports.
His nephew and fellow former wrestler, Davey Boy Smith Jr., has since confirmed the news to the media outlet, stating, “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.” He added, “Dynamite was certainly an inspiration to myself and many others and really revolutionized professional Wrestling as we now [sic] it today. He flew high, and gave it his all every match. Thanks for everything and sad to have lost another family member. Rest In Peace Dyno.”
At the time of this writing, further details surrounding his passing, including cause of death, have yet to be revealed. However, according to The Sun, Billington unfortunately suffered multiple health issues since his final match in October 1996, including losing the use of his left leg the following year, numerous heart problems, and a stroke.
As People magazine reported, Billington got his start as a singles competitor in the WWE, before he went on to win the World Tag Team Title at Wrestlemania 2 in 1986 alongside his cousin, Davey Boy Smith. The duo was known as the British Bulldogs.
“Billington pursued sports-entertainment as a means to avoid a life as a coal miner,” the WWE noted. “Although somewhat undersized, he possessed a ferocity and determination … developing a style that was both technically brilliant and wildly aggressive.”
After news of Billington’s passing broke, a number of wrestling fans, celebs, and former colleagues took to social media to share their thoughts and express their condolences — including WWE star Natalya Neidhart, who lost her father, WWE legend Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, in August 2018. Calling him “one of the greatest professional wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of wrestling boots” on Instagram, she added, “My dad said Dynamite Kid was his favorite person to wrestle, hands down … He poured his heart and soul into his matches. He sacrificed so much to be the very best.”
Our thoughts are with Billington’s loved ones during this difficult time.