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Pat Patterson, wrestling's first gay star, dies aged 79


Pat Patterson, the visionary professional wrestling pioneer and the industry's first gay superstar, has died at the age of 79.

WWE confirmed the news without disclosing details of his death. Rodger Brulotte, a former baseball announcer in Patterson's native Montreal, told local sports radio host Tony Marinaro that the wrestling legend passed away in a Miami hospital Wednesday morning. Marinaro wrote on Twitter that Patterson had cancer before he died.

DailyMail.com contacted the WWE to confirm Patterson's cause of death, but a spokesman instead responded by sharing the company's statement that doesn't mention it.

"Patterson was a true pioneer in the industry and has seen many" firsts "in sports entertainment throughout his career," the WWE statement said.

Pat Patterson, the visionary wrestling pioneer and the industry's first gay superstar, has died at the age of 79. Patterson was the WWE's first Intercontinental Champion

Patterson started wrestling in the early 1960s before eventually making his way to the WWE

Patterson started wrestling in the early 1960s before eventually making his way to the WWE

Pat Patterson saw him take control of an opponent in the 1970s

Pat Patterson saw him take control of an opponent in the 1970s

Wrestling legend Triple H remembered Patterson as one of the great storytellers in the business

Wrestling legend Triple H remembered Patterson as one of the great storytellers in the business

Pat Patterson (right) with longtime business partner WWE CEO Vince McMahon

Pat Patterson (right) with longtime business partner WWE CEO Vince McMahon

Patterson was born Pierre Clermont in 1941 and achieved many successes both in the ring and as a wrestler.

The track, formerly known as WWF, crowned Patterson the first Intercontinental Champion in 1979.

Later, after leaving the ring in 1984, Patterson was credited with designing the Royal Rumble, a battle royal in which many of the circuit's biggest names fight simultaneously.

Although he didn't become public knowledge until 2014, Pat Patterson considered himself the sport's first gay superstar. His autobiography was titled "Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE".

Although he didn't become public knowledge until 2014, Pat Patterson considered himself the sport's first gay superstar. His autobiography was titled "Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE".

Despite rumors about Patterson's sexuality for years, he didn't openly discuss the issue until 2014, when he tearfully acknowledged that he was gay during a reality television show, WWE Legends' House.

"When I sit here tonight, I'm going to say something I never want to say," Patterson said, as quoted by UPI.com. “Once in my life I'll be me. I survived it all as a gay man. & # 39;

Patterson later announced that his 40-year-old partner Louie Dondero had died of a heart attack in 1998. The two had met in the early 1960s at Tony Santos & # 39; Big Time Wrestling Promotion in Boston, according to Patterson's book & # 39; Accepted: How The First Gay Superstar Changed WWE. & # 39;

"Louie has been gone for more than fifteen years and I am still close to his brothers and sister and our nieces and nephews," Patterson wrote in 2016. "They are my family."

In 1992, both Patterson and another former wrestler, Terry Garvin, were charged with sexual harassment. Both men would be eliminated from WWF, although the allegations were never proven and Patterson returned to the circuit defending him against the claims.

Rodger Brulotte, a former baseball announcer in Patterson's native Montreal, told local sports radio host Tony Marinaro that the wrestling legend passed away in a Miami hospital Wednesday morning. Marinaro wrote on Twitter that Patterson had cancer before he died. DailyMail.com contacted the WWE to confirm Patterson's cause of death, but a spokesman instead responded by sharing the company's statement that doesn't mention it

Rodger Brulotte, a former baseball announcer in Patterson's native Montreal, told local sports radio host Tony Marinaro that the wrestling legend passed away in a Miami hospital Wednesday morning. Marinaro wrote on Twitter that Patterson had cancer before he died. DailyMail.com contacted the WWE to confirm Patterson's cause of death, but a spokesman instead responded by sharing the company's statement that doesn't mention it

Patterson with The Rock, Dwayne Johnson and his title belt in the 1970s

Patterson with The Rock, Dwayne Johnson and his title belt in the 1970s

After retiring from the ring in 1984, Patterson was credited with designing the Royal Rumble, a battle royal in which many of the circuit's biggest names fight concurrently. (Pictured) The 1988 Royal Rymble at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island

After retiring from the ring in 1984, Patterson was credited with designing the Royal Rumble, a battle royal in which many of the circuit's biggest names fight concurrently. (Pictured) The 1988 Royal Rymble at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island

Legendary wrestling announcer Jim Ross remembers Patterson as a "wonderful mentor".

Legendary wrestling announcer Jim Ross remembers Patterson as a "wonderful mentor".

Many of Patterson's colleagues responded to the news on social media.

"No words can describe what he's given us," said a tweet from wrestling legend Triple H. "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'll miss him for so many reasons … it's never goodbye, see you down the street. I love you, Pat. & # 39;

Stephanie McMahon, daughter of WWE CEO Vince, wrote: & # 39; I am deeply grateful to have grown up with WWE Hall of Famer, the very first Intercontinental Champion, the father of the #RoyalRumble and the first openly gay wrestler of his Generation. Thanks for teaching me how not to take any of this seriously. & # 39;

Her brother Shane added, “I cannot express how downcast I feel about the loss of Pat Patterson. A true member of my family, mentor and dear friend. I love you Pat. God speed.

Long time wrestling announcer Jim Ross called Patterson a "true legend" and a "wonderful mentor who taught me so much".

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