Wrestling icon Bruno Sammartino dies at 82

20 April, 2018, 01:00 | Author: Miranda Cannon
  • Bruno Sammartino

Bruno Sammartino - one of the world's most popular professional wrestlers who was fondly nicknamed "The Italian Superman" - has died at the age of 82.

Sammartino took the title from Buddy Rogers at Madison Square Garden on May 17, 1963, before relinquishing the belt after a loss to Ivan Koloff on January 18, 1971.

Everything that made Sammartino the man he was made it very easy for the creative forces behind WWE to present him as an in-ring giant slayer and a hero to be proud of.

He held the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) championship, then known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) championship, for almost eight years - the longest reign of all time.

VAVEL would like to extend its condolences to the family of Bruno Sammartino as well as the friends and fans who mourn in his passing.

McMahon tweeted: "One of the finest men I knew, in life and in business". Sammartino was one of the biggest wrestling stars of the 1960s and 1970s and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

Sammartino, an Italian immigrant who moved to Pittsburgh in his teens, became a cultural icon throughout the Northeast U.S. during his 30-plus-year wrestling career.

The company shared footage of the tribute on social media showing the crowd silent as they pay respect to WWE's longest reigning champion of all-time.


The brawler eventually lost the championship to Ivan Koloff in 1971, though he won it back in 1973, becoming the company's first two-time champ.

"Being inducted into the Hall of Fame at Madison Square Gardens is the biggest thing in my life", Sammartino said in an interview with ESPN ahead of his 2013 WWE Hall of Fame induction.

In 1959, weight-lifter Sammartino set a world record by bench-pressing an incredible 565 lbs.

In 1980, Sammartino once again broke box-office records for the sport at that time when he faced his former protégé, Larry Zbyszko.

"RIP Bruno", wrote Hulk Hogan. Sammartino suffered a broken neck when he was dropped on his head by Hansen in 1976 at the Garden.

Olympic gold medalist and WWE star Kurt Angle, a Pittsburgh native, called Sammartino "a hometown hero". Seriously. I watch a lot of movies.

"Through his uncommon strength and surprising grace he embodied the spirit of Pittsburgh on the world stage", Peduto said.

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