WWE Legend Virgil Dead At 61: 'An Incredible Athlete'

Several wrestlers paid tribute to the late WWE star, who rose to fame in the late-1980s

<p>Soul Train Jones aka VIRGIL/Instagram</p> Virgil

Soul Train Jones aka VIRGIL/Instagram


Former WWE star Virgil, who was best known as the bodyguard for "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase throughout the late-1980s, has died. He was 61.

Virgil, whose real name was Mike Jones, wrestled for the WWE and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) throughout the '90s and 2000s. His death was first announced on social media by longtime friend and former wrestling referee Mark Charles III.

“My dear friends, it is with great sorrow that I bring news from the Jones family of the passing of our beloved Michael Jones, whom we know and loved as Virgil, Vincent, Soul Train Jones and more,” Charles wrote. “Virgil passed peacefully at the hospital this morning and I ask that you pray for him and for his family. May his memory be eternal!”

A GoFundMe was set up late last year to help care for the retired wrestler after he was reportedly diagnosed with dementia. Ohio news affiliate WTRF reported that Jones had also suffered two strokes in 2022.

Related: Ole Anderson, Wrestling Legend and Member of the Four Horsemen, Dead at 81

<p>Soul Train Jones aka VIRGIL/Instagram</p> Virgil and Hulk Hogan

Soul Train Jones aka VIRGIL/Instagram

Virgil and Hulk Hogan

Born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, Jones played college football at Virginia Union University before trying his hand at bodybuilding and later, pro wrestling.

Jones made his pro wrestling debut with the WWF (which later became known as the WWE) in 1986 before finding his footing on the company's weekly television shows a year later.

In 1987, Jones’ impressive physique led to him playing an on-screen bodyguard for DiBiase, one of wrestling's most iconic characters whose snobby persona and determined avoidance of a fight irked his rivals.

As “Virgil,” Jones would become an ever-present secondary character in the WWF's main event storylines throughout the coming years, appearing on camera alongside DiBiase, Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan during their highly publicized feuds during the late-'80s.

By the mid-'90s, after the Virgil and DiBiase characters' relationship splintered, Jones’ WWF career would fizzle out. He later signed with WCW — WWF’s biggest rival during the '90s — and took on a similar role as the on-screen "Head of Security" for the newly popular New World Order faction.

Jones retired from pro wrestling fulltime in 2000 but would continue to reprise the Virgil character on WWE television and for independent pro wrestling companies around the country on several occasions over the next two decades.

Related: 'WWE Smackdown!' Pays Tribute to Bray Wyatt and Terry Funk After Their Deaths

Several former and current pro wrestling stars reacted to the news on social media Wednesday.

“Shocked and saddened to hear the news about Virgil,” retired WWE star Jake “The Snake” Roberts wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Rest in peace, my friend.”

WWE’s Luke Gallows, who interacted with Jones for several appearances after his full-time retirement, posted: “R.I.P Virgil, thanks for being a great sport during our shenanigans & for the memories. See you down the road good brother.”

“As a performer - an incredible athlete and a reliable soldier,” posted Brett Lauderdale, the owner of independent pro wrestling company GCW, where Jones made several appearances in recent years. “As a person - he was funny, cordial and unpredictable in all the best ways. He was a trooper and a friend of GCW. I truly feel lucky to have known him and I'll share my personal ‘Virgil stories’ forever.”

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.