American Gladiators’ William ‘Billy’ Smith Has Died at 56

Billy Smith spent time as a bodybuilder before his role on ‘American Gladiators.’

William ‘Billy’ Smith, known as Thunder, has passed away at the age of 56. Smith is best known for his role on ‘American Gladiators’ but spent time as a bodybuilder at a young age. His death was confirmed by the American Gladiators’ Instagram account. the cause of death is unknown at this time.

“It is with great sadness we report the loss of an American Gladiators legend and bodybuilding superstar William ‘Billy’ Smith aka Thunder. Our sincere condolences are with his family & friends #RIP.”


Billy Smith began competing in the sport of bodybuilding at 17 years old. During his 15-year career, Smith totaled 24 victories and was an immediate force in competition. Some of his most notable performances include a victory at the 1984 Gold’s Classic, placing sixth in the 1984 Nationals Heavyweight Class, and was third at Nationals.

Smith enjoyed studying sports nutrition and conditioning. At a young age, he found a passion for bodybuilding and earned many opportunities because of his incredible physique. Aside from his success on stage, Smith earned a role on American Gladiators from 1990-1992. He became a beloved figure from his role on the show. He returned to bodybuilding in 1995 and finished fifth at the USA’s among the heavyweights.

Billy Smith made an impact on many lives throughout his career as a bodybuilder and on television. Dave Palumbo, owner of RxMuscle, shared a post following this announcement.

“Very sad to hear of the passing of American Gladiators star and top NPC bodybuilder Billy Thunder Smith I competed with him back in the 90s .. nice guy @official_rxmuscleofficial_rxmuscle”


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A post shared by Dave Palumbo (@huge285)

Generation Iron sends condolences out to Billy Smith’s family and friends during this time. This article will be updated as more information is confirmed and becomes available. For more news and updates, follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Greg Patuto
Greg has covered the four major sports for six years and has been featured on sites such as Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports, SB Nation,, and FanSided. Now, he is transitioning into the world of bodybuilding and strength sports.