by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Before there was Hulk Hogan, there was Pat Patterson.
And before there even was a WWE, there was 'Big Time Wrestling,' televising matches from the old Cow Palace in San Francisco. When I was a kid, watching matches with my grandma - she never missed Big Time Wrestling - Pat Patterson was one of the top 'heels,' the wrestling term for bad guys, in the league.
Although Patterson came out publically on WWE's 'Legends' House' TV show on June 12, his sexuality was never a secret in the wrestling world.
Born Pierre Clermont in Montreal, Patterson debuted as 'Pretty Boy Pat Patterson' in 1958. His professional persona featured bleach blond hair, red lipstick, pink trunks, and a pet poodle that accompanied him to the ring.
Later on, Patterson lost the pink trunks, lipstick, and the poodle, but kept the blond hair, teaming up with another bleach blond heel, Ray Stevens. Billing themselves as 'The Blond Bombers,' Patterson and Stevens won 10 tag team championships. Patterson was also a six-time national championship as a solo act.
By the late '60s, Stevens had turned 'face,' or good guy, a switch, which started a long-running feud between the former teammates. The hostilities culminated in a famous Texas Death Match, in which Stevens took the national title from Patterson.
In 1972, Patterson himself turned 'face,' and launched another feud, this time with Lars Anderson. The same year, he found another bleach blond tag team partner, Rocky Johnson, and won the national title.
In 1981, yet another feud, this one with Sgt. Slaughter led to the famous March 4 'Alley Fight' in Madison Square Garden, voted Match of the Year by the Wrestling Observer.
Patterson retired from the ring in 1984, at the age of 43, becoming a color commentator and promoter.
Wrestling insiders say his business skills are every bit as sharp as his wrestling moves ever were.
According to the Wrestling Observer, Patterson first came out in the '70s, but his sexual orientation was never acknowledged in a wrestling storyline until the 'Legends' House' show.
By Patterson's own emotional account, he was partnered for 40 years, until his boyfriend died of a heart attack.
'For once in my life I'm going to be me now,' he said fighting back tears. 'I survived all this being gay. I lived with that for 50 some years. I had a friend with me for 40 years and I lost him...it was tough, guys. It was tough.'
In 2013, Darren Young became the first WWE star to come out.
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