Pat Patterson, the Canadian professional wrestler who made history as the first openly gay performer in the industry, has passed away at the age of 79.

The star, whose career spanned six decades, was notable as the first WWE Intercontinental Champion and creator of the immensely popular Royal Rumble match.

Last year, he became the oldest person to ever win a WWE title after conquering the WWE 24/7 Championship at 78 years old.

In an official statement, WWE paid their respects to the wrestling icon, saying he “left an indelible mark on the industry in the ring, on the microphone and behind the scenes.”

They added: “His name will forever be revered in WWE lore.”

Following the news, several professional wrestlers remembered him on social media, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who described Patterson as a “father figure”.

“Rough phone calls to get this morning to tell me, our dear family member, Pat Patterson who was my pro wrestling mentor and father figure has passed away,” he wrote.

“A WWE hall of famer, TRUE trailblazer and one of the most brilliantly creative wrestling minds the industry has ever known.”

John Cena tweeted: “Loss is incredibly difficult. Those we love are only truly gone if we stop caring. Pat Patterson lived life as it should be lived with passion, love and purpose.

“He helped so many and always entertained with a story or joke. He will live on in my life always. Love you Patrick.”

Hulk Hogan reflected on the first time the pair worked together in a heartfelt tweet, writing: “First interview with Pat, never could tell if he was ribbing.

“He set me up perfectly to run with it, “Mr Hogan you must have mirrors everywhere in your home so you see yourself all day and can pose 24:7.””

Hogan continued to say that Patterson had a “spark for the business that never went dim,” before concluding: “Love you and see you again my friend RIP only love HH.”

Chris Jericho, another legendary WWE champion, said Patterson was the “Yoda” to his “Luke” because he “taught me 90% of what I know about putting together a wrestling match.”

“He was a confidant, a mentor, a collaborator, a comedian, a singer and most importantly… a friend,” he added. “I love you Pat… this hockey puck is gonna miss you.” 

Our thoughts are with Pat Patterson’s family during this time.