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WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson, 1st openly-gay 'wrestling superstar,' dies at 79

He is linked to many WWE firsts.
Credit: eamanver
Single lit candle with a quiet flame

WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson has passed away, WWE confirmed Wednesday.

He was 79 years old. 

WWE called him a "trailblazer" of the wrestling industry who was linked to many firsts in the sports-entertainment world. In 1979, he was the first-ever Intercontinental Champion.

According to WWE, Patterson's "most legendary" rivalry was with Sgt. Slaughter. Their match-ups "captivated" fans. He later served as a color commentator with Vince McMahon in the 1980s.

Patterson is credited with creating the original format of the "Royal Rumble Match" in 1988, WWE said.

As TMZ points out, Patterson began wrestling in the 1950s before joining WWE in the 70s. According to TMZ, Patterson came out as gay in 2014 during an episode of "WWE Legends House," calling it a "powerful moment."

He published a 2016 memoir titled “Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE.”

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