WWE legend Pat Patterson dies at 79

WWE legend Pat Patterson has died at the age of 79.

The wrestling organization confirmed the news Wednesday, calling him a “true trailblazer of the industry” in a career spanning six decades.

"WWE extends its condolences to Patterson’s family and friends," the WWE in a statement.

Patterson became the first-ever Intercontinental champion and was the creator of the Royal Rumble Match. Considered the WWE’s first openly gay superstar, his legacy was penned in Patterson’s 2016 autobiography, “Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE.”

Patterson began his career in 1958 in Canada and later joined the WWE in the late 1970s, becoming well-known for his legendary rivalry with Sgt. Slaughter. Shortly before his in-ring retirement in 1984, Patterson joined Vince McMahon as a color commentator. He also worked backstage as a road agent and was described by many as McMahon’s “right-hand man.”

Patterson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996.

Pat Patterson is pictured in a provided file image. (Photo credit: Provided / WWE)

Many took to social media to honor Patterson, including Vince McMahon’s children, Shane and Stephanie, as well as longtime WWE Superstar Triple H. 

“I can not express how crushed I feel right now with the loss of Pat Patterson. A true member of my family, mentor and dear friend,” Shane McMahon wrote.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.