The Ultimate Warrior was an American professional wrestler who had a net worth of $1.5 million dollars at the time of his death. Also known as James Brian Hellwig, the Ultimate Warrior was an American professional wrestler and bodybuilder who was hugely popular in the World Wrestling Foundation in the 1980s and 1990s.
He first wrestled as part of the tag team, the Blade Runners in the Mid-South Wrestling league, which became known as the Universal Wrestling Federation. From there, he wrestled for a year with World Class Championship Wrestling. It was during this time that he began to be called “Warrior”. From 1987-1991, he wrestled with the World Wrestling Federation. He won numerous titles during his time with the WWF. From 1992-1996, he went in and out of retirement, and then returned to fight for the WCW in 1998. He retired in 1998, but fought one match in 2008. On April 5 2014, Ultimate Warrior was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class. On April 6 he made a surprise appearance at Wrestlemania.
On April 7 he appeared in a promo on WWE Raw. Unfortunately, less than 24 hours after this appearance on Raw, Ultimate Warrior collapsed while walking to a car from his hotel. He was officially pronounced dead on April 8, 2014. His final public appearance on television was seen by many viewers as being prophetic of his death, and serving as a kind of auto-eulogy for the legendary wrestler, including the lines “Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat, his lungs breathe 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 larger than life, then his essence, his spirit will be immortalized.”
Warrior was born on June 16, 1959 in Crawfordsville, Indiana, a small town about 50 northwest of Indianapolis. He was the eldest of five total children who were primarily raised by their mother after their father left the family when Warrior was 12, though his mother would later remarry. He began training with weights when he was 11 years old.
Warrior attended Veedersburg’s Fountain Central High Scholl and the enrolled at Indiana State University. He had initially planned to become a chiropractor but changed his mind in order to pursue bodybuilding and wrestling.
Warrior initially began his career as a bodybuilder. In his first contest, he came in fifth place. He had moved to Georgia and began competing in various competitions in the area. While in his early 20s, he won the Junior Atlanta contest and then placed 5th in the 1981 AAU Collegiate Mr. America. In 1983, he won the AAU Coastal USA competition and then won the title at the 1984 NPC Mr. Georgia competition. He continued competing in 1985, when he placed 5th in the Junior USA contest. Warrior moved to California toc continue training as a bodybuilder but was then invited to join a group of other bodybuilders to form a professional wrestling team. Warrior decided to abandon his bodybuilding ambitions to focus on wrestling.
Warrior’s first professional moniker was Jim “Justice” Warrior of Powerteam USA, the team he had been invited to join. He created a tag team with Steve Borden called The Freedom Fighters. The team debuted in the Tennessee-based Continental Wrestling Association in November of 1985. They then rebranded as the Blade Runners and joined the Universal Wrestling Foundation before Warrior decided to leave to join the World Class Championship Wrestling group in Texas. He stayed there for two years, going by the name Dingo Warrior.
In 1987, he joined the World Wrestling Foundation (WWF), where he would remain until 1992. It was during this time that his career really took off and he began officially going by The Ultimate Warrior. Within two years, he had become the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion. He also won the WWF Championship at WrestleMania VI, defeating Hulk Hogan, and making him the first wrestler to concurrently hold both titles. He tried to leave the WWF in 1992 over a pay dispute, which was not approved, but then was later released due to steroid use.
In 1993, he legally changed his name to the mononym, Warrior, which appears on all his legal documents and is used by his children as their surname. He briefly returned to the WWF but then ultimately joined World Championship Wrestling, during which time his feud with Hulk Hogan continued. That storyline ultimately culminated in Halloween Havoc in 1998, which was something of a rematch between Hogan and Warrior based on the 1990 WrestleMania VI match. However, the match was regarded by many as something of a disaster and has since gone down in history as one of the worst matches of all time.
In 1999, Warrior formally retired from wrestling. He then had a short career as a conservative speaker and commentator in which he would comment on pertinent political topics of the time. He also maintained a blog on his website called “Warrior’s Machete” in which he discussed his personal life and views on politics, patriotism, and other issues. While many greatly admired Warrior, he also was characterized by others as being hateful and bigoted given some of his comments throughout his career and on his website. In 2008, he wrestled his final match ever in Spain.
Personal Life, Death, and Legacy
In 1982, Warrior married Shari Lynn Tyree. The remained together for much of Warrior’s prime career with the WWF before divorcing in March of 1991. Eight years later, Warrior remarried to Dana Viale in 1999. The couple had two daughters together.
Warrior died on April 8, 2014 in Scottsdale Arizona. He had just been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame three days prior and made his final appearances on WrestleMania XXX and Raw on April 6 and 7. Warrior had apparently suffered a heart attack outside of a hotel that he was staying at with his wife. After being rushed to the hospital, he was pronounced dead at the age of 54. An autopsy revealed he had died of a heart attack caused by atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
Since his death, Warrior’s legacy has sustained. He is considered to be one of the most recognizable wrestlers in WWE history. He appears as a character in multiple games and action figures, including the Mattel Legends figures line. He is also a playable charater in many of the WWE video games. In 2015, the WWE introduced the Warrior Award in his honor which is given to those who demonstrate perseverance and strength. In 2017, they also partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and created the “Unleash Your Warrior” breast cancer awareness campaign in which features a likeness of Warrior.
However, others are not as satisfied with Warrior’s positive depictions in the media following his death. “Pro Wrestling Torch” and “Vice” have been called out many of Warrior’s problematic and offensive remarks towards gay people, victims of Hurricane Katrina, and Martin Luther King Jr.
|Date of Birth:
|Jun 16, 1959 – Apr 8, 2014 (54 years old)
|6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
|United States of America