Unfortunately today’s early morning news starts with the loss of yet another legend in the pro wrestling business. WWE.com has confirmed that Thomas Billington, better known as The Dynamite Kid. Today was his 60th birthday.
The son of a boxer and the grandson of a bare-knuckle fighter, Kid was born in Lancashire, England and trained by Ted Betley in the early 1970s. He moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1978 and began working with Bruce Hart and a young Bret Hart, and took his first bookings with New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1980.
Dynamite Kid is widely considered to be one of the most influential wrestlers of all time, combining different styles of hard-hitting wrestling with a reckless abandon and nonstop intensity that ultimately helped shape an entire generation of talents, and empower the junior heavyweight scene in Japan.
WWE has released the following statement:
WWE is saddened to learn that Thomas Billington, known to his fans as Dynamite Kid, has passed away at age 60.
Born in Golborne, Lancashire, England, Billington pursued sports-entertainment as a means to avoid a life as a coal miner. Although somewhat undersized, he possessed a ferocity and determination that earned him the nickname The Dynamite Kid.
As a singles competitor, he made his mark in WWE Hall of Famer Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, developing a style that was both technically brilliant and wildly aggressive. It was in Japan, however, where Dynamite Kid set a new standard for junior heavyweight competition in a legendary series of matches against Tiger Mask, which would influence an entire generation of competitors, and help set the stage for brands like WWE’s 205 Live.
Dynamite Kid joined WWE in 1984 with his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, forming one of the most popular tag teams of their era, The British Bulldogs. Alongside their mascot, an English bulldog named Matilda, the duo battled it out in classic matches against Bret “Hit Man” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart of The Hart Foundation, and defeated Greg “The Hammer” Valentine & Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake to win the World Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania II.