Pat Patterson has died aged 79
The WWE legend and pioneer - who leaves behind an unrivalled legacy and was wrestling's "first gay superstar", coming out to his colleagues in the 1970s - has sadly passed away, with the industry mourning his death
4 December 2020
In a statement, WWE confirmed: "WWE is saddened to learn that Pat Patterson has passed away at the age of 79 ... WWE extends its condolences to Patterson’s family and friends."
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The late star's illustrious in-ring career saw him become the company's first ever Intercontinental Champion in 1979, while he was a big influence behind the scenes when his grappling days ended acting as a road agent and working with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon as his right-hand man.
Patterson is also responsible for giving the WWE Universe the iconic Royal Rumble match which is still one of the highlights of the wrestling calendar to this day.
In his book 'Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE', he wrote: "The first Royal Rumble was on January 24, 1988, in Hamilton, Ontario.
"The difference between WWE’s Royal Rumble and a traditional over-the-top rope battle royal is that the participants come into the match at two-minute intervals - not all at the same time at the beginning of the match. I wanted to create something special."
WWE ex ecutive and legend Paul 'Triple H' Levesque has led the tributes to Patterson, describing him as a "beloved member" of the company's family.
He said: "No words can describe what he gave to us. 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 (sic)"
Triple H's wife Stephanie McMahon added: "'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.
"Thank you for teaching me how to not take it all so seriously. Abooze. (sic)"
And her brother Shane said: "I can not express how crushed I feel right now with the loss of Pat Patterson. A true member of my family, mentor and dear friend. I love you Pat. God speed."