Wrestler Bruno Sammartino, 'the Italian Superman,' dies at 82

Cheryl Sanders
April 19, 2018

WWE has lost one of the faces on its Mt. Rushmore this morning as Bruno Sammartino, one of the most important professional wrestlers in history and a building block of the industry, died on Wednesday at age 82. He died peacefully after suffering from health issues for the past few months. Like so many of us, his immigrant family moved here to build a new life, and through his uncommon strength and surprising grace he embodied the spirit of Pittsburgh on the world stage. Bruno became World Wide Wrestling Federation championship in 1963 and held the belt for eight years, which still remains a record.

After his career as a wrestler, Sammartino remained close with the WWE, serving as a commentator and mentor, before his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

As recalled by the Sporting News, Bruno Sammartino left the then-WWF on a sour note, as he was upset with the new focus on "sports entertainment", the drug use that was then rampant in the company, and the increasing prevalence of edgy, controversial storylines.

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In 2000, he was knighted by the Queen of England. "But there is nothing that far away from the overall industry average that was affecting WPP at the time ".

Some fans in the crowd were so shocked by Sammartino's loss that some fans were even crying.

A two-time WWWF champion with reigns surpassing 11 combined years, Bruno Sammartino stands to this day as the longest-reigning world heavyweight champion in the history of what is now known as WWE. Three years later, he won the WWWF belt in NY with a 48-second defeat of Buddy Rogers. He was WWE's biggest and most recognizable star for almost two decades until the launch of Hulkamania and the company's national expansion through the creation of WrestleMania.

- ShinigamE (@WWEBigE) April 18, 2018Bruno is indirectly responsible for where I am today.

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Our thoughts are with his family and fans during this painful time.

Sammartino is survived by his wife Carol and his sons, David, Danny and Darryl. "A true friend...and one of the toughest people I've ever met", tweeted Paul Triple H Levesque.

Olympic gold medalist and WWE star Kurt Angle, a Pittsburgh native, called Sammartino "a hometown hero" who carried himself with dignity and was courteous to fans.

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