WWE Veteran ‘The Patriot’ Del Wilkes Passes Away at 59

Published 07/02/2021, 2:28 AM EDT


Retired pro wrestler Del Wilkes aka ‘The Patriot’ unfortunately passed away at 59. According to recent reports, he suffered a heart attack on the morning of July 1.

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He had to retire because of a torn tricep and briefly struggled with substance abuse. After retiring from pro wrestling in 1998, Wilkes has worked as a car salesman in Colombia, South Carolina for the last 16 years.

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WWE posted a statement after Wilkes’ demise. The statement briefly sheds light on the life and career of Wilkes as The Patriot.

The statement said one of his standout moments was a “memorable match against Bret Hart for the WWE Championship at In Your House: Ground Zero just two months after his WWE debut,” before sharing their condolences.

The former pro wrestler left behind five children and his wife Cathy Wilkes, whom he married on April 29, 2013.

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The pro wrestling career of Del Wilkes aka The Patriot

Ahead of his pro wrestling ventures, Wilkes was a football player and played from 1980 to 1984 in college. He then turned to pro wrestling and underwent training under Verne Gagne and The Fabulous Moolah.

Wilkes started wrestling in American Wrestling Association in 1988 under his real name and then the ring name “The Trooper.” He then wrestled in Global Wrestling Federation for two years under the name ‘The Patriot.’

Wilkes’ career started picking up after that as he went to World Wrestling Federation, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and then World Championship Wrestling.

Known for his trademark moves ‘The Uncle Slam’ and ‘The Patriot Missle’, Wilkes formed a team with Buff Bagwell and won the WCW Tag Team title twice. After briefly wrestling in AJPW again, The Patriot finally came to WWE (then WWF).

He started feuding with the Hart Foundation and formed the anti-American Hart Foundation. The Patriot used to carry the American flag under his gimmick, something that would be used by Kurt Angle and Jack Swagger later on.

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Wilkes teamed up with the likes of Ken Shamrock and Vader to defeat the Hart Foundation. He also challenged Bret Hart for the World Championship but failed to capture it.

After his retirement, he became a car salesman and hosted the “Unmasking the Truth” podcast on the WWAB Podcast Network. Florida-based pastor Andy McDaniel.

We, at EssentiallySports, extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by the unfortunate demise.

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Angana Roy

1195 articles

Angana Roy is a WWE and AEW author for EssentiallySports, having published more than 800 professional wrestling articles. She is currently pursuing higher studies in English language and literature from the University of Calcutta and has over three years of experience in journalism. As a life-long fan of the sports entertainment brand of pro-wrestling, her work consists of live coverage of weekly shows, PPVs, speculating the future course of storylines and everything in between.

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