(Reuters) - The Ultimate Warrior, one of U.S. professional wrestling's most celebrated athletes, has died at the age of 54, days after being inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc Hall of Fame, the company said late on 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 Stanford, Connecticut-based company said on its website.
Warrior, whose real 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."
Supporters and wrestlers took to the internet to express their respect for Hellwig, survived by his wife Dana and his two daughters, WWE said.
"Shocked and very saddened to hear about Ultimate Warrior passing. Prayers go out to his family! RIP. Loss for words," wrestler Curtis wrote in a Twitter message.
"RIP WARRIOR. only love. HH," Hulk Hogan Tweeted.
"Icon and friend," WWE Chief Operating Officer Triple H wrote in a Twitter message.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Robert Birsel)