This one hits close to home…Del Wilkes, known in his professional days as “The Patriot”, has left us…Del Wilkes gone at age 59 after a massive heart attack…Wilkes had successful run as a pro wrestler and he was a former offensive lineman for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks football team…He was a first-team All-American at guard for the South Carolina Gamecocks, during the 1984 season.
Del Wilkes was a South Carolina boy/man and he cut his teeth on playing college and pro sports, there in the state of South Carolina…
“The Patriot”/Del Wilkes came to Greensboro back in the late 1990’s and he had dinner at the home of local Greensboro resident Joey Gladson…Wilkes was speaking at a local church and he did his best to help others overcome the same problems he experienced when he went down the wrong path with steroids and physical/human growth hormones, plus prescription painkillers…
Wilkes hit a bad path, but he got his path straightened out, but that meant he had to get out of, and away from professional wrestling…I can still remember when he played the part of “The Trooper” in the old NAWA and in the AWA wrestling federation….Wilkes leaves behind quite a few memories for all of us, and he is now gone, but not to be forgotten…
RIP:”The Patriot”/Del Wilkes
CLICK HERE to see an excellent Del Wilkes photo…
Veteran pro wrestler “The Patriot” Del Wilkes has reportedly passed away.
The legendary Wilkes passed away earlier today from a massive heart attack, according to The Charleston Post & Courier. He was just 59 years old.
Wilkes, who leaves behind a wife of 40+ years named Cathy, began wrestling in 1988, and had runs with WWE, WCW, AWA, promotions in Japan, and more. He is a former two-time WCW World Tag Team Champion, and a former AWA World Tag Team Champion. Wilkes last wrestled for WWE in October 1997, losing to WWE Hall of Famer Jim Neidhart on Shotgun Saturday Night. He was released in early 1998.
Wilkes retired from pro wrestling after leaving WWE due to a triceps injury. He had worked for the past 16 years as a car salesman in Columbia, South Carolina. He also hosted the “Unmasking the Truth” podcast on the WWAB Podcast Network. Florida-based pastor Andy McDaniel, who hosted the podcast with Wilkes, issued a statement to The Post & Courier.
“Del Wilkes would become a name that those in college football knew quite well. He would make his name familiar in the world of pro wrestling as well. However, regardless of the accolades or fame he may have achieved, to me, he was best known as a friend. Del overcame his struggles in this life and became an inspiration to many. Our loss is Heaven’s gain,” McDaniel said.
More from WrestlingInc.com:
WWE has issued a statement on legendary pro wrestler “The Patriot” Del Wilkes passing away.
As noted, Wilkes passed away earlier today at the age of 59 after suffering a massive heart attack.
WWE pointed to Wilkes’ successful run on the University of South Carolina football team in college, and his memorable match against WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart at the “In Your House: Ground Zero” event in 1997, for Hart’s WWE Title. WWE’s full statement reads like this:
Del Wilkes, known to WWE fans as The Patriot, passes away
WWE is saddened to learn that Del Wilkes, known to WWE fans as The Patriot, has passed away at the age of 59.
Before making a name for himself in the squared circle, Wilkes was a standout on the football field for the University of South Carolina, where he earned the distinction of being voted a consensus All-American. After making the switch to sports-entertainment, Wilkes competed all over the world before arriving in WWE in 1997 as The Patriot.
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.
WWE extends its condolences to Wilkes’ family and friends.
from The State newspaper online in Columbia, South Carolina:
Del Wilkes, South Carolina football All-American and former professional wrestler, has died from a heart attack, according to a report from longtime wrestling writer Mike Mooneyham for the Charleston Post & Courier. He was 59 years old.
“When I was a kid, there were two things — football and pro wrestling — that occupied my every waking thought,” Wilkes once said.
No Gamecock reached such heights in two different pursuits as Wilkes. The Columbia native and Irmo High graduate paved the way for the offense for the 1984 Black Magic team and then went on to a lucrative career as The Patriot, a star in the WCW and WWE, as well as in Japan.
The WWE confirmed his passing, saying: “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.”
Wilkes played for the Gamecocks in 1980-1981 and then again in 1983-1984. He was a first-team All-American at guard during the 1984 season.
In wrestling, he trained in Columbia under women’s wrestling legend and Hall of Famer The Fabulous Moolah.
A family friend posted this to Facebook on Thursday afternoon: “At the request of his family, it’s with a devastated heart that I let you know Heaven gained one of the most special men I’ve ever had the honor to know today. Del Wilkes, I’ve loved you for 40 years and always will. Rest in peace, my dear friend…you’ll be missed more than you could ever know.”
“As a pro wrestler from Columbia, SC and fellow Gamecock, this news is devastating,” wrestler John Skyler posted to Twitter. “Del was always a pleasant guy to be around when our paths would cross.”
Said former WCW and WWE wrestler Marc Mero on Twitter: “Very sad to hear the passing of the Patriot Del Wilkes. Nothing but fond memories working with him in WCW. My thoughts are with his family and numerous fans. Thank you for the memories.”
from Mike Mooneyham with/at the Post and Courier, out of Charleston, South Carolina:
One of only four consensus All-American football players in program history – George Rogers, Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney are the others – Wilkes bolstered an offensive line that in 1984 helped set school records for touchdowns (49), points (371) and total offense (5,095 yards).
Heavily recruited as an offensive lineman at Columbia’s Irmo High School, Wilkes was USC’s most decorated player in 1984 when the Gamecocks finished 10-2.
He is not in the University of South Carolina athletics Hall of Fame because of a run of trouble that included serving nine months in an Aiken prison facility in 2002-2003 after charges of fraudulently obtaining prescription painkillers piled up. Wilkes was arrested 20 times in and around Columbia from 1998 to 2007 while trying to support what became a 150 pills-a-day habit.
Wilkes said he got hooked during his 1988-1997 professional wrestling career. He pled guilty to a domestic assault charge in 1999.