Billy Robinson, one of the best and toughest in-ring professional wrestlers of all time, passed away several days ago at the age of 74.
A Facebook posting on the official page for Scientific Wrestling in Little Rock, Arkansas, where Robinson worked as top coach, announced the following:
"I am unbelievably sad to report that my very good friend Billy Robinson passed away today. I hadn't heard from him in days so I contacted his apartment complex to check in on him. When I called back for a progress report the apartment manager put the police on the phone, it seems he passed peacefully in his sleep. He was a lion of a man, bigger than life in so many ways, my wife and I named our youngest son, Lliam in his honor. You will be sorely missed, my friend. Thank you so much for living the life you did."
Robinson was originally trained at the famous Snake Pit in Wigan, England that also produced Dynamite Kid and a number of other tremendous wrestlers. Robinson was considered a great shooter and in the ring, very fluid as a technical performer.
In the United States, Robinson was best known as being a main rival to Verne Gagne in the AWA. It was a natural rivalry for a promotion and era that was built on the foundation of true professional wrestling. That parlayed into a leading role in Gagne's film "The Wrestler" where he played an up and coming challenger to Gagne's World champion character in a film that remains a unique slice of pro wrestling history that screened locally theatrically and is available on DVD today.
Robinson's biggest success was internationally, as he toured and lived in India for some time wrestling, was a top star in the old Montreal territory in the early 1980s and was their reigning International champion. While champion, he wrestled then WWWF champion Bob Backlund, doing 60 minute matches.
In Japan, Robinson immediately became a top star as well, working for New Japan Pro Wrestling. He had a massive rivalry with Antonio Inoki with the story being that it was a match between the top two technical wrestlers in the world.
When the UWF was form based on legitimate hooking and shooting, Robinson was brought there and became a top trainer for their school in Japan, the UWF Snake Pit. He mentored a number of Americans who went over to work for the UWF and its successor, the UWFi, including former WWE and ECW star Little Guido.
Robinson worked very closely with MMA talents as well, including Josh Barnett, Kazushi Sakuraba and Rolando Delgado. Robinson also trained former WWE and current New Japan star Davey Boy Smith Jr. in MMA and privately, would tell people who were aware of the training (which Smith did privately while under contract to WWE) that Smith would be a massive success if he went the MMA route.
Robinson was inducted into the International Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003 and published an autobiography "Physical Chess" in 2012. He had also released a series of training DVDs via the aforementioned Scientific Wrestling.
I had the chance to interview Billy once and the luck to meet him a number of times in the last decade and he was truly a great guy to interact with and had an incredible understanding of the international history of the business. To say I was extremely saddened when I learned of his passing would be a massive understatement.
On behalf of everyone involved with PWInsider.com, I'd like to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of a truly great professional wrestler and a truly great man, Billy Robinson.