WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino dies at the age of 82
- Author: Gwendolyn Kim Apr 20, 2018,
Apr 20, 2018, 0:55
He was professional wrestling's ultimate good guy.
Mr McMahon tweeted: "One of the finest men I knew, in life and in business".
Bruno Sammartino was popular at a time when the WWWF was a regional outfit, putting together shows in the northeastern part of the United States. "He will be missed".
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.
Sammartino went on to hold the title for almost eight years - by far the longest reign ever.
Sammartino enjoyed rivalries against fellow WWE Hall of Famers such as Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon and George "The Animal" Steele. He became the beloved heavyweight champion of the world.
Born on October 15, 1935, Sammartino grew up in Pizzoferrato, Italy before immigrating to the United States with his family, settling in Oakland, Pa.
The sports entertainer first rose to fame in 1959 when he began working with wrestling promoter Vince McMahon, and in 1963, he became the second-ever WWE Champion. On January 18, 1971, Ivan Koloff ended Sammartino's run as champion, however he did not hold the belt long. That one lasted until he was pinned by "Superstar" Billy Graham in 1977. Sammartino was respected and loved by his fans and others in the locker room.
"I was getting my auto smashed, I had to hide in trunks", Zbyszko said. "He was my mentor". He fought in a battle royal at WrestleMania 2 (getting eliminated by Big John Studd), was the sole survivor of an elimination match against The Hart Foundation and The Honky Tonk Man, and teamed up with Hulk Hogan to defeat King Kong Bundy and One Man Gang in his final WWF match in 1988. "WWE extends its condolences to Sammartino's family, friends and fans", the company wrote via their website.
Sanmmartino - who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013 - had his wife Carol Sammartino and their two children by his side at the time of his death. Sammartino suffered a broken neck when he was dropped on his head by Hansen in 1976 at the Garden.
"He and his mother hid in a mountain called Valla Rocca during the German occupation and eventually joined his immigrant father in Pittsburgh in 1950".
It was during this time that a young Sammartino started lifting weights and soon caught the eye of one of the WWE's forefathers Vincent J. McMahon, who introduced him to Professional Wrestling. He was the most vibrant and spirited person I met that week, and he shared with me invaluable wisdom about the business and life as a whole.