Actor and athlete Lee Reherman, who played Hawk on the competition series “American Gladiators,” died late on Monday in Manhattan Beach, Calif. He was 49.

His rep and longtime friend Anthony Turk told Variety that Reherman’s death was completely unexpected, calling him the “epitome of health.” While the cause of death has not yet been revealed, Turk said Reherman underwent hip surgery about two months ago and had not been feeling well for the past few days.

Reherman, muscle bound and standing 6-foot-4, had first planned to go into professional football, playing as an offensive lineman at Cornell University. He failed to make the Miami Dolphins team after a stint in training camp, and subsequently moved to California to pursue a career in acting.

He scored a small role on the TV show “Columbo” and appeared in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Last Action Hero,” but broke out in 1993, when he joined competition reality show “American Gladiators” as Hawk. The show pitted normal citizens against athletes to see who would come out on top.

“American Gladiators” was in its fifth season when Reherman joined. He continued to appear on the show until its cancellation in 1996.

Reherman also had a career as a TV personality, becoming the host of the Speed Network’s “Hot Rod TV” and “Forza Motorsport Showdown” in 2007.

Reherman most recently appeared in an episode of the CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” as well as Fox’s “Cooper Barret’s Guide to Life.” His other TV credits include small roles in “The X-Files,” “Gilmore Girls,” “That’s So Raven” and “The Shield.”