Published on August 15th, 2015 | by Pro Wrestling Stories1
By: J. Zarka, [email protected]
Pro Wrestling Stories.com had the privilege of catching up with Del ‘The Patriot’ Wilkes (@DELWILKES) last month. In our in-depth discussion, Del held nothing back!
Wilkes played college football as a linebacker for South Carolina and had a short stint in the NFL before turning to professional wrestling. Del talks training to wrestle with The Fabulous Moolah, wrestling for Mid-South Wrestling, AWA, GWF, All Japan, WCW and WWF while feuding with and alongside Scott Steiner, Buff Bagwell, Kenta Kobashi, ‘Dr Death’ Steve Williams, Stan Hansen, Vader, Bret Hart & The Hart Foundation and many others. Del shares a funny story about Scott Steiner, the cliquish stronghold Hogan, Savage and Flair had on the WCW locker room, the uneasiness behind the curtain in WWF as tensions grew between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, Vince’s dislike of masks, the pride of fighting for Baba at All Japan, the Japanese audience, his 200+ pills-a-day addiction, his view of the current product, advice to wrestlers coming up in the business today, plus much more.
He’s since found redemption, cleaned himself up, found God, has a DVD coming out in two months and has an inspirational story to tell.
Pro Wrestling Stories: Del, it’s an absolute pleasure talking to you today. You have a storied career spanning over ten years and quite an inspiring story to share. Thanks for taking the time to talk with Pro Wrestling Stories.
Del Wilkes: Well, I appreciate you having me.
PWS: So let’s go back. You played college football at South Carolina for four years from 1980-1984 as a dominant lineman, had a short stint in the NFL and then turned to professional wrestling. What inspired you to train to become a wrestler and what was it like training under the tutelage of The Fabulous Moolah?
Del: I grew up a wrestling fan here in Columbia, South Carolina. Watched every Saturday as a kid growing up in Columbia and I just fell in love with wrestling. I determined in my freshmen year at South Carolina that whenever football was over for me, I was going to pursue a career in professional wrestling.
The Atlanta Falcons released me prior to the start of the 1986 football season, so I came back to Columbia and I gathered up my money. I think it cost me $1800 then to get through Moolah’s school. Of course, it was neat meeting and getting to know Moolah. Obviously as a wrestling fan, I knew of her. I knew all about her, but never met her. I knew she was from my hometown, but just to have the opportunity to sit around and talk with Moolah, hear some of the stories about her years in the business and who she was. That was really one of the huge iconic woman figures of all time. Back when she broke into the business, there weren’t many women in the business, so she was somewhat of a trailblazer. She was tough! She had to be tough at that point in time to make a living in a business that was dominated by men, especially when she broke in back in the 50’s. So, it was really neat to be around her and get to know her. She was tough. She had a tough reputation and she was. She was a tough businesswoman as well, but she had a sweet heart about her. I enjoyed her friendship up until the day she died.