With Wrestlemania beginning today, I thought it would be very appropriate to remember a Gamecock that pursued his career in the ring.
If you didn’t recall, Wilkes joined The Spurs Up Show for an exclusive interview just a few short months ago:
Del Wilkes is one of the greatest recruits in Gamecock history.
Wilkes is one of four consensus All-American football players in South Carolina.
Wilkes, otherwise known as ‘The Patriot’, found himself in a wrestling career with a string of titles and a consistent intercontinental competitor.
Wilkes played during the memorable “Black Magic” season, the only Gamecock season with 10 wins before Steve Spurrier.
Wilkes was one of the best offensive linemen in the nation and earned himself a spot on an NFL roster.
Wilkes only spent a couple of years in the NFL, getting cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Hawks in 1986.
Wilkes then found a niche in the wrestling profession, when he started his career for the American Wrestling Association under the alias “The Trooper”.
As a part of his act, “The Trooper” would write his opponent tickets after he demolished them in the ring.
“The Trooper” won the AWA World Tag Team Championship with D.J. Peterson and retained the title until the organization’s disbandment.
After a short stint with the Global Wrestling Federation, he ventured to the renowned World Wrestling Federation.
Wilkes wrestled over a half-dozen times in the WWF as ‘The Patriot’ and won an impressive four matches in a row to start his career.
Unfortunately, Wilke’s career in the WWF was short-term, as he moved to the All Japan Pro Wrestling League.
Wilkes continued his ‘The Patriot’ gimmick and gained the All Asia Tag Team Championship and held the title for three months.
Wilkes joined the very-popular World Championship World (WCW) as a tag-team competitor.
Wilkes joined Marcus Alexander Bagwell and formed the team referred to as ‘The Stars and Stripes’.
They battled an exchanged the title several times over the following months. Wilkes wrestled for the WCW for a few months before leaving in May 1995.
‘The Patriot’ joined the WWF again later in his career and feuded with WWF Legend Bret Hart, where he then challenged Hart for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, losing to Hart at Ground Zero: In Your House in submission.
Wilkes suffered a tragic torn triceps injury that made his return to WWF short, but he made an impact during his short lived career, especially in the tag-team world.