Pat Patterson was born on January 19, 1941, in Montreal, Canada. One of four kids his family did not have a lot. Patterson took every chance he had to get involved in wrestling and began training at the age of fourteen. This began the creation of the gay wrestler Pat Patterson we know today.
Patterson’s wrestling career spans several decades. He began wrestling in 1958 in Montreal under the name ‘Pretty boy’. After several years on the amateur wrestling scene, in 1979 he got his big break. He began wrestling with WWF (now known as the WWE) under the name ‘Heel’. He was portrayed as a villain within WWE but soon had a turn and became the good guy.
Patterson was WWE’s very first intercontinental heavyweight champion. It was during his reign as champion that he decided to become the good guy. Patterson won numerous titles and even became the oldest person in WWE history to hold a title by winning the 24/7 championship in July 2019. Patterson is credited with being the creator of the iconic 30 men Royal Rumble match. Patterson became boss Vince McMahon’s right-hand man which led to him having a great presence backstage in WWE. Even though Patterson retired from wrestling in 1984 he still continued to wrestle occasionally. He was inducted into the WWE hall of fame in 1996. Patterson was involved with WWE up until his death earlier this year.
Vince McMahon, his boss, and long time friend remembered Patterson:
Pat Patterson was more than the first Intercontinental Champion & father of the Royal Rumble Match. He helped lay the foundation for WWE as we know it. His mentorship shaped careers, his creativity sparked innovation and his friendship lifted spirits. Love you, Pat. We miss you. pic.twitter.com/TugpAOrN6O
— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) December 2, 2020
Patterson was the first openly major gay wrestler. At the time wrestling was a very macho dominated industry. While his sexuality was never made public during his wrestling career, apart from a few jokes from commentators. Patterson paved the way for the future of queer individuals within the wrestling industry. Patterson did address his sexuality publically on an episode of WWE Legends’ House. He also wrote a book about his experiences of growing up as a gay wrestler. Experiences like Patterson’s has led to wrestlers supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
Several wrestlers credit their success within the industry to Patterson. Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, Bret Hart, and Chris Jericho are just some of the superstars that acknowledge him in relation to their success. Chris Jericho described Patterson in an Instagram post as “the Yoda to my Luke. He taught me 90% of what I know about putting together a wrestling match.”
Patterson’s career was successful both in and outside of the ring. He went on to be one of the biggest names both on and off stage in WWE history and his legacy will live on through how he shaped the WWE that we know and love today. Pat Patterson was the first major gay wrestler and helped to secure a place for queer people within wrestling today.
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