Catch wrestling legend Billy Robinson has died at the age of
Robinson is believed to have died peacefully in his sleep. He was
found on Monday morning, although a cause of death is currently
unknown. Robinson was living in Little Rock, Ark., where he taught
classes at Westside Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
“He loved the spotlight. In his life with all the things he’s seen
he was a real rock star. I tried to reach him over the last few
days, and he didn’t answer,” Westside owner Matt
Hamilton told Sherdog.com. “I thought I’d see him when he
taught his class on Friday. When he didn’t show up, it didn’t make
me wonder because it’s not that uncommon. Needless to say, everyone
here is bummed out. We’ll miss coach and his personality. I’ll
remember him as a great character.”
Despite myriad injuries from a lifetime in combat sports, including
knee and hip replacements as well as neck surgery, Robinson
remained an active figure at the Arkansas gym right up until he
“He was one of the legends,” Hamilton said. “I met Carlson Gracie
at an old UFC event, and knowing Billy, I can say I got to know two
of the MMA legends. Billy was a great old guy who was passionate
about teaching. Just a week ago he was down on the mat doing stuff.
It’s a shame because anytime you know someone and this happens, you
just wish you spent more time with him.”
Robinson was born on September 18, 1939, in Manchester, England. He
was the British national wrestling champion in 1957 and the
European Open Champion in 1958. Robinson later attended Billy
Riley’s “Snake Pit,” one of the most respected catch wrestling
schools in the world, where he would spend approximately eight
years learning under Riley.
Robinson came to the U.S. in 1970, where he made his name in the
American Wrestling Association. He also famously competed against
Antonio Inoki in a professional wrestling match in Japan in 1975.
Robinson was inducted into the International Wrestling Hall of Fame
After his professional wrestling career came to an end, Robinson
taught catch wrestling to mixed martial arts notables such as
Sakuraba and Josh Barnett.
More recently, Robinson trained three-time UFC competitor Roli Delgado
at the Westside gym in Arkansas.
Joseph Santoliquito contributed to this report