First Openly-Gay WWE Wrestler Pat Patterson Dies At 79

(Credit: YouTube Screenshot Inside The Ropes

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WWE star Pat Patterson has passed away at the age of 79.

The news of Patterson’s death was announced Wednesday by the WWE.

“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.” (RELATED: WWE Star Road Warrior Animal Dies At 60)

Patterson, the first openly-gay WWE star, began his WWE career in 1958 and retired from the wrestling ring in 1984. He was later signed on as a WWE commentator and was inducted into the hall of fame in 1996. Patterson was the first-ever Intercontinental Title reign and he created the Royal Rumble Match.

“I can not express how crushed I feel right now with the loss of Pat Patterson,” WWE executive and wrestler Shane McMahon said in a statement on Twitter. “A true member of my family, mentor and dear friend.”