Former WWE legend Dynamite Kid has died at the age of 60.
The Lancashire-born star, who became an industry icon in the 1980s, had been battling a number of health issues in recent years, having being left wheelchair bound following his career.
UK wrestling trainer Marty Jones took to social media to confirm Billington’s death, on his 60th birthday.
“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 & his family.”
His physical style has been seen as being long ahead of its time, with his snap repertoire of hard hits and high-flying moves inspiring a generation of talent such as Bret Hart, Chris Benoit and Daniel Bryan.
Current WWE star TJ Perkins has posted his tribute to Dynamite Kid on Instagram, as has NXT star Tyler Bate and wrestling fans around the world.
Born in Lancaster in 1958, Billington started wrestling at the age of 13 and by the time he was 16, was touring the UK, often working alongside cult star Big Daddy.
He departed England for Calgary at the age of 20, joining Stampede Wrestling, before working in Japan, Mexico, and eventually, in 1984, making his way to WWF, where he teamed up with his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, as the British Bulldogs.
In 1986 he suffered a broken back in the ring at Madison Square Garden and was told he would never wrestle again.
However, he fought back and would wrestle unabated for the next five years, although Billington, widely lauded as one of the best wrestlers of his generation, left WWF under something of a cloud in 1988, resigning from the company over a dispute over complimentary plane tickets.
He continued wrestling full time back in Canada and Japan until 1991, but years of drug taking and steroid abuse ultimately caught up with Billington, and he announced his retirement.
He would return for occasional matches over the next five years, with his final match taking place on October 10, 1996, but his body was failing him.
In 1997 – the year he married his second wife, Dot – Dynamite Kid collapsed at their home and lost the use of his left leg, told by doctors he would never walk again.
Since then he suffered a number of heart problems, seizures and, in November 2013, a stroke.
He fell out with former tag team partner Smith in the early 1990s, and the duo never spoke again before Smith’s death back in 2002.