WRESTLING legend Thomas Billington, known as “The Dynamite Kid”, has 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.
New Japan Pro Wrestling superstar Will Ospreay paid tribute to the icon on Twitter this morning after learning of his death.
Along with a picture of Billington in his pomp, he posted: “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.”
And his former tag partner’s son, Davey Boy Smith Jr. confirmed the news, saying: “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 professional wrestling as we now it today.
“He flew high, and gave it his all every match.”
Dynamite’s friend and retired wrestler Marty Jones then posted: “It’s with great sadness I have to inform you all that the Dynamite Kid Tommy Billington on his birthday passed away.
“A true British ambassador for wrestling worldwide. RIP ‘Kid’. Condolences to Mark and his family.”
The Englishman shot to worldwide stardom in the 1980s along with cousin and tag partner “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith.
The duo captured the WWE Tag Team titles company’s tag-team gold before going their separate ways in 1988.
The British Bulldogs were rated as the fifth best tag team ever by Pro Wrestling Illustrated in 2003.
Dynamite Kid went on to work for Stampede Wrestling and in Japan until his final match on October 10, 1996 at a Michinoku Pro event called These Days.
He competed in a six-man bout dubbed “Legends of High-Flying” alongside Dos Caras and Kuniaki Kobayashi against The Great Sasuke, Mil Mascaras, and Tiger Mask.
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Known for his huge physique, reports saw Dynamite’s body had degenerated to the point where he was “practically skin and bones”, with the bottom of his usually tight-fitting tights looking very loose.
Dynamite still managed to hit a tombstone piledriver on Great Sasuke, leading Dos Caras to powerbomb Sasuke for the pin to ensure he ended his career in winning fashion.
But he suffered a seizure at the airport the next day, the second after originally having one in 1987, and was immediately rushed to hospital.
Dynamite lost the use of his left leg in 1997 and was forced to use a wheelchair.
In addition to his paralysis, Billington also had a number of heart problems and WWE reported he had suffered a stroke in 2013.
A video emerged in January 2017 of Billington in a care home trying to raise funds to help with his medical care.
WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race, who invented the diving headbutt which Dynamite adopted, has previously gone on record to express his regret at creating the move.
He believes it causes spinal problems as well as concussions and that they may have contributed to Dynamite’s injuries.
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.
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