Del Wilkes, who competed in WWE as The Patriot, has died at 59 years old. The Post and Courier states that the cause of death was a massive heart attack.
His professional wrestling career lasted from about 1988 to 1997. He arrived in WWE as The Patriot in 1997 for a feud against heel Bret Hart. Their rivalry spanned multiple pay-per-view events and included a WWF championship match.
WWE has issued the following statement on his death:
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.
Please share with us in the comments below your thoughts and favorite memories of Del Wilkes’ career in pro wrestling.