'The Patriot' Del Wilkes Passes Away At Age 59

Sad news as Del Wilkes, best known as "The Patriot" in WWE, has passed away at the age of 59.

The news was first posted on Facebook by Allen Wright Adkins, who wrote, "At the request of his family, it's with a devasted 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."

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Wilkes made his wrestling debut in 1988 and wrestled for promotions such as WCW, AWA, and AJPW.

Wilkes joined WWE as The Patriot in 1997, famously feuding with Bret Hart and the Hart Foundation as they rallied Canada against the United States. He challenged Hart for the WWE Championship at WWF In Your House 17: Ground Zero.

He last wrestled on Shotgun Saturday Night in October 1997.

WWE posted the following statement:

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.

Fightful would like to extend our condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Del Wilkes.

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