One of the first openly gay professional wrestlers has, unfortunately, passed away.
As TMZ reports, wrestling trailblazer Pat Patterson died at the age of 79. Several celebrities have shared tributes to Patterson and their condolences to his family. For instance, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson paid tribute to Patterson through an Instagram post.
“RIP Pat. You’ll be missed,” Johnson wrote. “Rough phone calls to get this morning to tell me, our dear family member, Pat Patterson who was my pro wrestling mentor and father figure has passed away. Love you, Pat. And thank you. I’ll see you down the road.”
The WWE itself also expressed remorse at Patterson’s passing.
“WWE is saddened to learn that Pat Patterson has passed away at the age of 79,” WWE said in a statement. “WWE extends its condolences to Patterson’s family and friends.”
Patterson started his career in professional wrestling in 1958. His career then spanned over six decades. In that time, Patterson started off by becoming a recognized name in the Bay Area wrestling community. He even won the AWA Tag Team Championship with Ray Stevens in 1978. After that, Patterson moved on to WWE. Patterson also created WWE’s first Royal Rumble Match, which later became a large part of his legacy (besides being inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996).
According to CNN, he explained in his book, Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE, “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.”
And, of course, Pat Patterson was also gay. He came out as gay during a 2014 episode of WWE Legends House, which you can watch below.
May he rest in peace.