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WWE Hall of Famer, first openly gay wrestling star, Pat Patterson, dies at 79

WWE Hall of Famer, first openly gay wrestling star, Pat Patterson, dies at 79
Posted at 10:41 AM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 15:12:05-05

WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson, who is considered to be the first openly gay wrestling star, has passed away at the age of 79, the company announced Wednesday.

"WWE is saddened to learn that Pat Patterson has passed away at age 79," WWE said in a statement. "A true trailblazer of the industry, Patterson was linked to many "firsts" in sports-entertainment throughout his storied career, including the first-ever Intercontinental Title reign and the creation of the Royal Rumble Match. In a career spanning six decades, the renaissance man left an indelible mark on the industry in the ring, on the microphone, and behind the scenes."

Patterson, whose real name was Pierre Clermont, began his career as a wrestler in 1958 in his native Canada and retired from the ring in 1984. Former wrestler Bart Hart inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996.

On Twitter, wrestler and actor John Cena said Pat "lived life as it should be lived with passion, love, and purpose."

"Loss is incredibly difficult. Those we love are only truly gone if we stop caring. Pat Patterson lived life as it should be lived with passion, love,, and purpose. He helped so many and always entertained with a story or joke. He will live on in my life always. Love you, Patrick."

Stephanie McMahon, the chief brand officer of WWE, also expressed her condolences and thanked Patterson for teaching her how to "not take it all so seriously."

"I'm deeply grateful to have grown up with #wwe Hall of Famer, the first-ever Intercontinental Champion, the father of the #RoyalRumble, and the first openly gay wrestler of his generation," McMahon tweeted. "Thank you for teaching me how to not take it all so seriously. Abooze."

In 2016, Patterson wrote about his experience in the wrestling world as a gay man in his autobiography, "Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE."