Former WWE superstar Tom Billington, best known by the ring name Dynamite Kid as one-half of the British Bulldogs, died Wednesday after dealing with health problems for the past several years. He had just turned 60.
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.
“It’s with great sadness I have to inform you all that The ‘Dynamite Kid’ Tom Billington on his birthday has passed away. A true British ambassador for wrestling worldwide RIP ‘Kid’ condolences to Mark [sic] & his family.”
No cause of death has been announced so far, but the Mirror noted that 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 Thomas Billington in Lancaster on December 5, 1958, the future Dynamite Kid started wrestling in his native U.K. 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. He joined the company then known as 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.
As further noted by the Mirror, 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. The publication added that 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.
Despite only competing in the WWE for a brief period of time, Billington was considered by many to be one of the most talented and influential wrestlers of his era, according to the Mirror. Following his death, a number of present-day wrestlers took to social media to pay tribute to the Dynamite Kid, including former WWE Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins (aka TJP) and New Japan Pro Wrestling standout Will Ospreay.
According to the Sun, Tom “Dynamite Kid” 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.