By Steve Canavan A WORLD champion wrestler once worshipped by millions of fans and paid £25,000 a fight is now penniless and confined to a wheelchair.

Tom "Dynamite Kid" Billington - better known as one half of the famous World Wrestling Federation tag team duo The British Bulldogs - enjoyed a 20-year rollercoaster ride of fame.

And with it came an orgy of drugs, booze, brawls and steroids.

But even though the effects of his wild lifestyle have now taken a terrible physical toll, the 41-year-old insists he wouldn't change a thing.

His amazing story is told in a new book written by Horwich woman Alison Coleman who spent months with Tom. And what he says in the book, called "Pure Dynamite", makes incredible reading.


At the height of its popularity in the 1980s, WWF Wrestling was watched by millions of fans throughout the world.

But behind the scenes was a world of wild excess and bad behaviour.

In the book, Tom claims wrestlers snorted cocaine, took the class A drug speed to keep them awake and injected themselves with steroids to maintain their muscular frames.

Tom, who now lives a simple life in Hindley with his second wife, Dot, enjoyed it to the full.

He said: "Even though my legs are paralysed and the doctors have told me I'll never walk I'd do it again.

"Wrestling was my life. It was the only job I knew how to do and I loved it. It may have ruined my body but it was just part of the job. As long as the fans were happy, I was happy. I didn't care what damage I did to myself."

Tom started wrestling at the age of 13 after being spotted and nurtured by Ted Betley, a coach in Wigan close to where Tom grew up.

By the time he was 16 he was wrestling at venues around the country, becoming Big Daddy's tag team partner - a man he never liked.

But Tom showed more talent than most and he soon left England for Calgary, Canada, to join a bigger wrestling promotion. It led to Japan and eventually the WWF and was the beginning of his rollercoaster ride.

Tom - widely thought of as one of the best wrestlers of his generation - won many titles and belts and with his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, became The British Bulldogs, a duo which won the prestigious WWF Tag Team championship.

But it wasn't just the wrestling Tom took part in.

He said: "We used to snort cocaine off restaurant tables at three in the morning and nobody would bat an eyelid. The bosses at WWF said there were no steroids, no drugs, no alcohol but it all went on then.

"Because I was on the small side I had to take steroids to keep my weight up. I remember one very famous wrestler being asked how he kept his weight up - and he said he ate a lot. "

But it was at the height of his fame in 1986, when he was being paid £25,000 to appear at WWF events at Madison Square Gardens in New York alongside famous names like Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart, that tragedy struck.

Tom broke his back in the ring. He was told to quit wrestling by a specialist but he ignored the advice.

He carried on wrestling until 1991. By then, when he officially retired, he was in increasing pain.

He and first wife, Michelle, who he married in Calgary at the start of his career, divorced and Tom lost everything. He gave her his money, his home and his cars because, he says, he wanted to make sure their three children never went without.

In 1997 - the year he married second wife, Dot, whom he now describes as his rock - the past caught up with him.

He collapsed at their Hindley home and a specialist told him that nothing could be done.

There was too much scar tissue from his previous operation in 1986 to operate again.

Before his 40th birthday, Tom was told he would be in a wheelchair for life.

He spends his days quietly away from the limelight with his family and his friend, former wrestler John Naylor, who lives nearby and has become a good friend.

And despite his predicament, the one thing Tom will always retain is his good humour.

He adds: "I'd like to walk again but it's not everything. Besides it's good practice for the wife pushing me up all the

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