Dynamite Kid dead aged 60: WWE legend Bret 'Hitman' Hart pays tribute to 'the best wrestler ever'

The wrestling world was rocked yesterday after the English grappling great 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.

Prior to shooting to worldwide stardom in the 1980s alongside cousin and tag partner "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith in WWE, Billington worked for Stampede Wrestling – owned by Hitman’s dad Stu Hart.

And it was during this period Bret Hart met the icon, and the late high-flyer certainly made a lasting impression on the WWE Hall of Famer and his family as he went on to marry his sister.

In an emotional Facebook post, the “Excellence of Execution” Hart wrote: “There are people in life that have a ripple effect both professionally and personally. Tom “Dynamite Kid” Billington was one of those people. The second professional wrestling match of my career was against Dynamite.

“I benefited from his greatness and through our matches in Stampede, WWE, and everywhere in-between, I became a better wrestler because of him.

“Dynamite truly was the best wrestler ever, pound-for-pound.

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“Tom was family, my brother-in-law, and we were very close. In many ways I felt like one of the few people who truly knew him, both the good and the bad.

“I saw Tom one final time this past June in England and I can only hope he is finally at peace. My thoughts are with his children Browyne, Marek, and Amaris, and the entire Billington family.”

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 again and in Japan until his final match on October 10, 1996 at a Michinoku Pro event called These Days.

Known for his huge physique, reports claim 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 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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