TRIBUTES have flooded in from the wresting world for a former "inspirational" ring competitor.

Thomas Billington, from Golborne, who was known as the "Dynamite Kid" due to his ferocious and determined wrestling style, died on Wednesday, the day of his 60th birthday.

His cause of death has not been announced but it is believed he was suffering from ill health for a number of years.

Billington's cousin was wrestling superstar Davey Boy Smith, aka The British Bulldog, also from Golborne, who died in 2002.

The pair of them forged a successful tag team partnership known as The British Bulldogs in the 1980s and they were accompanied to the ring by their mascot, English Bulldog Matilda.

They won the WWF World tag team title from Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake at WrestleMania II in 1986.

Billington followed a career in sports entertainment to avoid the life of a coal miner.

Paying tribute on social media, Davey Boy Smith Jr said: "It deeply saddens me to announce the passing of Tom Billington the 'Dynamite Kid'.

"I was really happy and glad I got to see Dynamite one last time last June in the UK

"Dynamite was certainly an inspiration to myself and many others and really revolutionised professional wrestling as we now it today.

"He flew high, and gave it his all every match.

"Thanks for everything and sad to have lost another family member. Rest In Peace Dyno."

Wrestling greats have also posted tribute messages on social media.

Bret "The Hitman" Hart, who wrestled with Billington, labelled him the "best wrestler ever, pound-for-pound".

He said: "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. 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."

Legend Hulk Hogan also said: "RIP Dynamite Kid. I’m still trying to process where and why.

"I never thought winding down would involve me watching so many friends moving on before me. Only love. Yo D, we sure had some really fun times.

"I loved being in the same dressing room with u and Davey, brother HH."

The World Wresting Entertainment (WWE) has issued a statement to pay its respects.

A WWE spokesman said: "WWE is saddened to learn that Thomas Billington, known to his fans as Dynamite Kid, has passed away at age 60.

"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."