Wrestling world pays tribute to WWE legend Bruno Sammartino

Apr 20, 2018, 00:54
Wrestling world pays tribute to WWE legend Bruno Sammartino

Bruno Sammartino, one of the most iconic stars in professional wrestling history, has died at age 82, the WWE announced Wednesday morning.

"Sammartino began lifting weights as a young man and grew to become one of the strongest men on the planet".

On May 17, 1963, Sammartino defeated Buddy Rogers in under a minute to become the second-ever WWE Champion. For over seven years Sammartino consistently sold out Madison Square Garden feuding with villains such as Gorilla Monsoon, Waldo Von Erich, George The Animal Steel, Ernie Ladd, Freddie Blassie, The Sheik and many other well-known wrestling villains of the era.

Sammartino's name on the marquee almost guaranteed a squared-circle sellout in the 1960s and 1970s, and he held the World Wide Wrestling Federation championship for more than 11 years (4,040 days) over two title runs.

Share your Bruno Sammartino memories in the comment section below.

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"One of the finest men I knew, in life and in business". He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013 after years of turning down the offer because of his opposition to the company's use of steroids and what he viewed to be vulgar storylines.

He was born in Italy but his family eventually immigrated to the United States, settling in Pittsburgh.

Sammartino, who started his wrestling career in the late '50s, wrestled for Vince McMahon Sr.'s World Wide Wrestling Federation in the '60s, '70s and '80s. He lost his championship to Ivan Koloff in 1971 but won it back in 1973 to become the first-ever two-time WWE Champion. His last big in-ring match happened in 1980 when he battled protégé Larry Zbyszko inside a packed Shea Stadium.

"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.

"RIP Bruno", wrote Hulk Hogan.

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"My broken neck is for real".

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

Kurt Angle posted a long tribute to Sammartino on Instagram, which read: "My hometown hero, Bruno Sammartino has passed". I'm so grateful I had the chance to meet Bruno and tell him how much he meant to my grandfather and the entire Hart family.

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto said Sammartino was one of the city's greatest ambassadors.

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