Tom Billington, former Stampede Wrestling superstar, dies

Former pro wrestler Tom Billington — known to fans as the Dynamite Kid, and a fixture of Canada's Stampede Wrestling — died Wednesday in England, on his 60th birthday.

Known as the Dynamite Kid, Billington died on his 60th birthday

Harry Smith, right, who wrestles under the name Davey Boy Smith Jr., posted this photo to Twitter of himself and Tom Billington, known as the Dynamite Kid. Billington died Wednesday at age 60. (Harry Smith/Twitter)

Former pro wrestler Tom Billington — known to fans as the Dynamite Kid, and a fixture of Canada's Stampede Wrestling — died Wednesday in England, on his 60th birthday.

He was best known as one-half of the British Bullldogs tag team, along with his real-life cousin Davey Boy Smith, and their mascot, a bulldog named Matilda.

Smith's son Harry, who now wrestles under the name Davey Boy Smith Jr., called Billington an inspiration.

"I was really happy and glad I got to see Dynamite one last time last June in the U.K.," he tweeted. "Dynamite was certainly an inspiration to myself and many others.…"

News of Billington's death was shared on social media, with current and former stars offering condolences.

"Every wrestler under 200lbs likely owes a debt of gratitude to The Dynamite Kid," tweeted Lance Storm.

"He inspired so many and help change the sport. In the ring he was incredible. The only wrestling T-shirt I ever purchased was a British Bulldogs shirt, which I wore to WrestleMania IV. #RIP."

Born in England, Billington made his pro wrestling debut there in 1975.

Standing five foot eight and eventually weighing 228 pounds, Billington was considered somewhat small for a pro wrestler but utilized a high-flying and technical style that delighted fans.

He arrived in Calgary in 1978 to join Stampede Wrestling, run by the legendary Hart family.

From there he spent time working in Japan before joining the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) — known today as World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE — when the company bought out Stampede Wrestling in 1984.

Billington held the tag-team championship belt twice in Stampede Wrestling and once in the WWF. He retired from pro wrestling in 1996.

In interviews over the years, fellow wrestlers have said he could be a bit of a bully in the locker room and was involved in actual fights as a result.

Billington also admitted in a documentary to holding a shotgun under his first wife's chin, and wrote in his autobiography that he heavily used steroids during his career. 

Years of wrestling took their toll on Billington as he suffered numerous serious injuries, mainly to his back, and lost the use of his left leg about a year after he retired. He was eventually confined to a wheelchair and needed care. 

He also reportedly suffered a stroke in 2013.

The cause of Billington's death was not made public.

About the Author

Dave Dormer

Web writer

Dave Dormer joined CBC Calgary in May 2016. A graduate of the SAIT photojournalism program, Dave has worked in print and television newsrooms across western Canada.