in

Del Wilkes, Formerly WWF’s ‘The Patriot’ And South Carolina Football Alum Has Died

Known to wrestling fans as “The Patriot,” Del Wilkes passed away Thursday morning at the age of 59 following a massive heart attack. Outside of the ring, Wilkes had a storied career for the University of South Carolina football team, becoming just one of four Gamecocks to earn consensus All-American honors. George Rogers, Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney were the others. Social Media tributes have been pouring in from around the South Carolina and wrestling communities.

After a failed attempt to make an NFL roster, Wilkes set his sights on becoming a professional wrestler, and he succeeded. He quickly gained a loyal fan base who appreciated the wrestler’s decision to carry an American flag with him to the ring, while decked out in a wardrobe full of stars and stripes.

Wilkes would go on to spend time in the WWF, WCW and Japan before a triceps injury forced him to retire. The WWE acknowledged his passing via Twitter and released an accompanying statement saying in part: “A Superstar quickly on the rise, The Patriot proudly donned the red, white and blue of America in the midst of a rivalry with The Hart Foundation, leading to a memorable match against Bret Hart for the WWE Championship at In Your House: Ground Zero just two months after his WWE debut.”

After leaving the ring, Wilkes spent the last 16 years working at a car dealership in his native Columbia, South Carolina.

 

Written by Anthony Farris

Anthony is a former high school basketball intramural champion who played a leading role in creating two offspring. He spends his weekends hoping for an MTV Rock N' Jock revival.

Follow him on twitter @OhioAF

Leave a Reply

to comment on this post. Not a VIP? Signup Here