It was announced today that Del Wilkes, better known in wrestling circles as The Patriot, has died at the age of 59 following a heart attack.
Wilkes’ most famous run in wrestling came in the then WWF in 1997 when he was brought into the company specifically as an opponent for Bret Hart and The Hart Foundation as part of the ongoing USA vs. Canada angle.
The Patriot faced Hart for the WWF Championship at In Your House: Ground Zero in September 1997 before teaming with Vader to face Hart and The British Bulldog in a flag match at In Your House: Badd Blood the following month.
Prior to that, Wilkes broke into wrestling after being nominated as an All American during his time playing college football for the University of South Carolina.
He wrestled all over the world before his short WWE run with stints in the AWA, Global Wrestling Federation and All Japan Pro Wrestling.
He also made a name for himself in WCW, forming a team with Marcus Alexander Bagwell. The duo would be named Stars & Stripes and won the WCW Tag Team Championship on two occasions in 1994.
Wilkes retired not long after leaving WWE due to a triceps injury and in 2002 would spend time in jail for prescription forgery.
Before his death, Wilkes was married to childhood sweetheart Cathy for over 40 years. Our condolences go out to her and the family of Del Wilkes.