Wrestling Legend The Ultimate Warrior Dies at 54

Wrestling Legend The Ultimate Warrior Dies at 54
The Ultimate Warrior on April 5, 2014
Jonathan Bachman/AP

04/09/2014 10:05AM

WWE star "The Ultimate Warrior," born James Brian Hellwig, has died, it was announced in a statement posted on the WWE website Tuesday. He was 54.

No cause of death has been given.

Hellwig, who had legally changed his named to "The Ultimate Warrior" in 1993, had carved out an indelible place in wrestling history. With his trademark make-up, which some described as something akin to KISS, and neon ring garb, along with his flowing blond locks, Warrior began his professional career in 1987.

He later rose to the top to defeat Hulk Hogan to earn his spot as WWE champion during their famed WrestleMania VI bout.

He was stoic and never broke character as he created a fan base, competing against such other '90s stars as Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, The Washington Post reported.

Warrior, who always was announced as hailing from "parts unknown" – which only added to his mystique – paved the path for other future stars, including actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

He left the spotlight in 1998, retiring to become a motivational speaker and to star in his own workout tapes, said The Post. He also created comic books about his character

Warrior's death came just days after he had returned to the WWE to be honored in its Hall of Fame ceremony in New Orleans last Saturday, USA Today reported.

He had recently appeared at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw, where he donned a mask, which replicated his trademark ring make-up, and a long jacket similar to his previous costumes.

"No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own," he told the Raw crowd. "Every man's heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breath their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something that's larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the storytellers – by the loyalty, by the member of those who honor him, and make the running the man did live forever."

Tributes quickly poured in for the wrestling legend, whose death left many stunned. “We are all so sad that the Ultimate Warrior has passed away,” WWE CEO and chairman Vince McMahon said on Twitter.

Noted wrestling star Chris Jericho in a Tweet: "Devastated to hear of the passing of @UltimateWarrior. He was a childhood hero of mine & he vs @HulkHogan WM6 is still one of the best ever." Added Hulk Hogan on Twitter: "RIP WARRIOR. only love. HH."

Warrior is survived by his wife Dana and two daughters.

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