Trailblazing athlete 'The Dynamite Kid' Tom Billington was one of the greatest professional wrestlers to ever come out of the UK. A squared circle visionary, his hard-hitting and athletic style would go on to shape a generation of professional wrestlers and would be a major influence on today's multi-billion dollar sports entertainment industry.
Five years after his sudden death at the young age of 60, the grappling star's daughter Bronwyne Billington is committed to keeping her father's legacy alive.
On episode 21 of the Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast series, Bronwyne joins Ben Veal to share memories of her father, his globe-spanning journey as a pro wrestler, and to talk openly about rekindling her relationship with her dad during his final years.
Episode 21 of the #GoodJourneysPod is out now. Listen/watch:
A SMALLER GUY IN A BIG MAN'S INDUSTRY
"Way ahead of his time"
Legendary world champion Bret Hitman Hart once described the Dynamite Kid as "truly the best wrestler ever, pound-for-pound" - lofty praise coming from a performer considered by many to be the greatest in-ring competitor of all time. Tom Billington's influence on the professional wrestling industry is far-reaching, and even now, over three decades after being forced into an early retirement, his famous clashes in Japan, Canada and the US are studied religiously by new entrants into the industry.
"My father was way ahead of his time, you hear everyone say it," recalls Bronwyne. "His matches still hold up today. He was the first smaller guy to really make a big difference in a big man's industry, especially back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And he was really all about the sport, not the soap-operaness that it was; he was about the grappling, the mat work, and it's just beautiful to watch. I'm just so proud of his body of work. A lot of people study [his matches] and I just think that's so amazing - when they become wrestlers themselves, they'll often study my dad and Tiger Mask."
WRESTLING WITH FAMILY LIFE
"When he was home he would just be home"
Tom Billington amassed many professional accolades during his storied wrestling career - including competing in three WrestleMania events and holding the WWF tag team championship alongside brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith as one-half of The British Bulldogs, winning the All Japan Pro Wrestling and Stampede Wrestling championships multiple times, and being named a Wrestling Observer Hall of Famer. Yet that was as 'The Dynamite Kid'. Speaking candidly on the #GoodJourneysPod, Bronwyne shares her memories of Tom Billington as a father.
"He was a family man. When he was home he would just be home. We'd go for family dinners at the Hart House. He would train in the wrestling ring - we had a wrestling ring in our backyard. I remember that he had a convertible so we would go for rides [together] ... he just absolutely loved me. I was his first-born. Daddy's girl. He pampered me with a lot of love, and it's all positive memories for me."
Episode 21 of the Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast is out now.
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