Pat Patterson, WWE wrestling superstar, dead at 79
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Pat Patterson, a WWE legend and the first openly gay wrestling star, has died at the age of 79.
"WWE is saddened to learn that Pat Patterson has passed away at the age of 79," the WWE said in a statement online. "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," the statement continued. "WWE extends its condolences to Patterson’s family and friends."
Patterson, whose real name was Pierre Clermont, started his wrestling career in 1958 in his native Canada and retired from the ring in 1984.
He later became a color commentator for the WWE and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996.
“I can not express how crushed I feel right now with the loss of Pat Patterson,” WWE executive and wrestler Shane McMahon wrote on Twitter. “A true member of my family, mentor and dear friend. I love you Pat. God speed.”
“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,” Stephanie McMahon, the chief brand officer of WWE, said. “Thank you for teaching me how to not take it all so seriously. Abooze.”
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“No words can describe what he gave to us,” penned Paul “Triple H” Levesque, a former wrestler and current WWE exec. “His body as an in-ring performer, his mind as a storyteller, and his spirit as a beloved member of our large @WWE family. I will miss him for so many reasons… it’s never goodbye, it’s see ya down the road. Love you, Pat. Abooze.”
In 2014, Patterson came out as gay during a 2014 episode of "WWE Legends House."
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"For once in my life I’m going to be me now. I survived all this being gay. I lived with that for 50-some years. I had a friend with me for 40 years and I lost him…it was tough guys. It was tough," he said.
Patterson also wrote about his experience as a gay man in the wrestling world in his 2016 memoir, "Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE."
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