02 December 2020 18:33

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Pro wrestling icon Pat Patterson, the industry's first openly gay star and a long-time lieutenant of promoter Vince McMahon, has died, officials said Wednesday. The WWE Hall of Fame member was 79. Pat Patterson at the 53rd Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion Convention at the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. on May 1, 2018. George Napolitano / MediaPunch "A true trailblazer of the industry, Patterson was linked to many 'firsts' in sports-entertainment throughout his storied career," World Wrestling Entertainment said in a statement. "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." Pro wrestler John Cena said he'll never forget Patterson's friendly demeanor and zest for life.

Pat Patterson, the first openly gay pro wrestling star, has died at 79

"Pat Patterson lived life as it should be lived with passion, love and purpose," Cena said in a statement. "He helped so many and always entertained with a story or joke. He will live on in my life always. Love you Patrick." PAT PATTERSON I DONT KNOW WHAT TO SAY OTHER THAN I LOVE YOU. YOU HAVE BEAUTIFUL MIND FOR THIS BUSINESS AND BEAUTIFUL HEART FOR THIS WORLD. THANK YOU FOR YOUR FRIENDSHIP #rip pic.twitter.com/XASbSUG0qO — The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) December 2, 2020 Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, better known as The Iron Sheik, tweeted an all-caps eulogy of his contemporary, lauding Patteron's "beautiful mind for this business and beautiful heart for this world." "I don't know what to say other than I love you," he wrote. "My heart is broken. God bless you and your family. Thank you for your friendship." Long-time WWE referee Charles Robinson said he'll miss seeing his old friend in the ring, backstage, on press row and even at the karaoke bar. "One of the greatest minds in the business and just an all around great guy," Robinson said. So sad to hear of the passing of @wwe legend Pat Patterson. One of the greatest minds in the business and just an all around great guy. I will miss him and his karaoke! RIP my friend. You are a hero to many! pic.twitter.com/WXFwJ1fjkO — Charles Robinson (@WWERobinson) December 2, 2020 The teenaged Patterson was thrown out of his home in Montreal after coming out to his parents and did the unthinkable — immigrated to America to make it in the hyper-macho world of pro wrestling, he wrote in his biography, "Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE." He was the first to hold the title of "Intercontinental Champion" in 1979, and his early 80s rivalry with Sgt. Slaughter took pro wrestling to new heights of popularity. It culminated in the famed "Alley Fight at Madison Square Garden" in New York City on May 4, 1981.