The Ultimate Warrior, a former professional wrestler inducted days ago into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, has died at age 54, the WWE announced late Tuesday.
"WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever, The Ultimate Warrior," the Stamford, Connecticut-based company said on its website.
The Ultimate Warrior, whose given name was James Hellwig, began his WWE career in 1987 and rose to become one of the biggest stars in WWE history, the company said, highlighting an "epic encounter" in which he defeated Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI to become a WWE Champion.
The cause of his death was not given. He was added to the Hall of Fame on April 5.
"We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans," World Wrestling Entertainment said.
The 6-foot, 2-inch tall, 280-pound wrestler commanded the ring in his signature neon garb and long, blond hair, and face paint, WWE said.
His family could not immediately be reached, and an email sent through his website was not immediately answered.
In a statement on his website peppered with sarcasm, Hellwig expounded on philosophy and funneling energy from the ring into writing, motivational speaking, and his family life after retiring in the late 1990s.
"Ultimate Warrior ran because I was running him. He was intense because I already was. Whatever I am doing - wrestling, writing, working out, speaking, even weaving pot holders - I am going to do it with action and intensity," Hellwig wrote.
"I have built an incredibly empowered life on my OWN terms. As a devoted husband and father, I could not have custom-ordered a more loving, healthy, spirit-filled, and happy home life," he wrote.
Fans, supporters and wrestlers took to the internet to express their respect for the wrestler, who is survived by his wife Dana and his two daughters, WWE said.
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) April 9, 2014
Loss always has a way of reminding us to live and love as greatly as we can. My prayers and strength to his family. RIP Ultimate Warrior.— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) April 9, 2014
BREAKING NEWS: WWE is shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of The Ultimate Warrior. http://t.co/6uccA9pkKe— WWE (@WWE) April 9, 2014
We are all so sad that the Ultimate Warrior has passed away. Our heart is with his wife Dana and his two daughters.— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) April 9, 2014
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Saddened to announce the passing of the Ultimate Warrior. Icon and friend. My sympathy to his wife Dana and his daughters— Triple H (@TripleH) April 9, 2014