Behind The Mask

Del Wilkes was Born December 21, 1961 and is an American retired professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, The Patriot. Over the course of his nine-year career, Wilkes wrestled for the American Wrestling Association, the Global Wrestling Federation, All Japan Pro Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, and the World Wrestling Federation.

After leaving the WWF, Wilkes retired due to torn triceps. Since leaving the business, Del admitted that he had used steroids and cocaine during his career, starting with his college football days. He spent nine months in prison in 2002 for forging a prescription due to his addiction to painkillers. As of July 2007, Del has since quit drugs and is a car salesman in Columbia, South Carolina at Dick Smith Nissan. In a July 25, 2007 interview with WACH reporter Justin Kier, Del discussed his career, steroid use, the Chris Benoit tragedy, and various other topics. Kier's last two questions involved saying goodbye to the fans and giving advice to youngsters in the wrestling business. Del urged young wrestlers to "learn from our mistakes." He said that 50 people who he once worked with in the wrestling business are now dead.

College Football Career

Del was heavily recruited as an offensive lineman at Columbia's Irmo High School and played for the South Carolina Gamecocks.One of only four consensus All-American football players in program history, He added 50 pounds of bulk to his six-foot-three, 225-pound frame to bolster an offensive line that in 1984 helped set school records for touchdowns (49), points (371) and total offense (5,095 yards). Del knew the Gamecocks would do something special when he met first-year head coach Joe Morrison before the 1983 season. He had quit the team before Morrison was hired but agreed to meet the new coach and former NFL running back at a Columbia restaurant. Del was selected as an All-American starter in 1984 by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), the Associated Press (AP), and the Walter Camp Football Foundation(WC). Despite a stellar collegiate campaign, Del failed to make the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1985 and the Atlanta Falcons in 1986 when football was over for Del, he turned to a pro wrestling career that he found physically grueling but financially rewarding. Bob Hope, the iconic late comedian annually introduced college All-Americans during holiday television specials. Del Wilkes is one of only four Gamecock consensus All-Americans. The only others are George Rogers (1980), Melvin Ingram (2011) and Jadeveon Clowney (2012).

Professional wrestling career

Ring Names

Del Wilkes, The Patriot, The Trooper

Billed Height 6'2

Billed Weight 275

Billed From Washington, D.C. (WCW) Columbia, South Carolina (WWF)

Trained By Verne Gagne & Fabulous Moolah

Debut 1988

Retired 2000 Due To Torn Triceps

American Wrestling Association (1988–1991)

Del Wilkes started out in the AWA in 1988 under his real name for a year, before wrestling under the ring name “The Trooper.” He wrote his opponents tickets after beating them as part of his police gimmick, and would also hand out plastic police badges to the fans as he came to and from the ring. The Trooper won the AWA World Tag Team Championship with D.J. Peterson on August 11, 1990 at the final AWA television taping. They were the AWA's final World Tag Team Champions before it folded that year. Alongside Paul Diamond, Wilkes also headlined the AWA's near-annual supercard former PPV, Superclash 4. In a cage match, they were victorious over the Destruction Crew, Wayne Bloom and Mike Enos.

All Japan Pro Wrestling (1992–1994)

In 1992, during his stint in the GWF, Del went to wrestle in All Japan Pro Wrestling. He had success with Jackie Fulton who wrestled as "The Eagle" to match Dels' Patriot gimmick. On June 2, 1993, The Patriot and The Eagle defeated Kenta Kobashi and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi to win the All Asia Tag Team Championship. The Patriot would hold onto the titles for three months, eventually losing them on September 9, 1993 to Doug Furnas and Dan Kroffat. In late 1993, The Patriot and The Eagle entered the 1993 World's Strongest Tag Determination League where they finished in 7th place with 4 Points.

Global Wrestling Federation (1991–1992)

Del went onto Global Wrestling Federation as a fan favorite and became "The Patriot," where he was crowned the first GWF Television Championship in a tournament in 1991. Soon afterwards, The Patriot feuded with Al Perez over the GWF North American Heavyweight Championship, which he won initially on Aug. 10, but the victory was disputed. He won the title again in a rematch against Perez two weeks later. He held the title for five months before losing it to his nemesis, The Dark Patriot.

World Championship Wrestling (1994–1995)

In 1994, Del signed with World Championship Wrestling to form a team with Marcus Alexander Bagwell called Stars and Stripes. They feuded with Paul Orndorff and Paul Roma over the WCW World Tag Team Championship. The two teams battled for the titles and exchanged victories in non-title matches for several months. One week after losing the titles at Fall Brawl 1994, Stars and Stripes defeated Pretty Wonderful on September 25, 1994 on WCW Saturday Night. Stars and Stripes held the titles for a month but lost them back to Pretty Wonderful at Halloween Havoc 1994. On November 16, 1994, at Clash of the Champions XXIX, Stars and Stripes regained the titles in a match where Patriot's mask was on the line. Three weeks later, on December 8, Stars and Stripes lost the titles to Harlem Heat (the match would air on January 14, 1995 edition of WCW Saturday Night). Wilkes continued wrestling for WCW for several more months until leaving in May 1995.

Return to AJPW (1995–1997)

After no-showing the Slamboree pay-per-view in May 1995, Del returned to AJPW. He quickly formed a tag team with Johnny Ace. On August 30, 1995, Del and Ace challenged The Holy Demon Army for the World Tag Team Championship but lost. The two then entered the 1995 World's Strongest Tag Determination League where they finished in 4th place with 13 points. On January 2, 1996, Wilkes won All Japan's yearly January 2 Heavyweight Battle Royal to give him his second All Japan achievement. For the battle royal victory, Del ended his team with Ace and went into the midcard with little direction. In the spring of 1996, Del entered the 1996 Champion Carnival where he finished in 9th place with 6 points. In the summer of 1996, Wilkes formed a tag team with Kenta Kobashi, on October 12, 1996, they challenged Steve Williams and Johnny Ace for the World Tag Team Championship but they came up short. In November 1996, Del and Kobashi entered the 1996 World's Strongest Tag Determination League where they finished in 3rd place with 16 points, Del even scored a pinfall victory over Toshiaki Kawada. In early 1997, Del and Kobashi reunited with Johnny Ace and the three formed the stable: GET (Global, Energetic, Tough). Dels' involvement with the group only lasted a few months as he left All Japan in July 1997.

World Wrestling Federation (1997-1998)

Del made his TV debut on the July 14, 1997 episode of Raw and feuded with Bret Hart. The premise of this feud was that Hart had just started his anti-American Hart Foundation, and The Patriot was, as the name implied, a man who stood up for America. He wore a mask with American stars and stripes and carried the American flag. He defeated Hart on television in a match on July 28, 1997 after interference from Shawn Michaels. Del went on to challenge Hart for the WWF title at Ground Zero: In Your House where Hart forced him to submit with the Sharpshooter. At Badd Blood: In Your House, Del teamed with Vader against the Hart Foundation's Bret Hart and The British Bulldog, but lost the match. Following Badd Blood, Patriot was scheduled to team with Vader, Goldust, and Marc Mero as part of Team USA at Survivor Series 1997 but suffered a torn triceps weeks earlier, he was replaced by Steve Blackman. Del was released in early 1998.