Iconic Wrestler Bruno Sammartino Dead at 82

Iconic Wrestler Bruno Sammartino Dead at 82

Iconic Wrestler Bruno Sammartino Dead at 82

Bruno Sammartino, who is arguably wrestling's biggest influence for generations, passed away at the age of 82. According to CBS Pittsburgh, Sammartino died peacefully with his wife and his twin sons, Darryl and Dan, by his side.

A native of small Italian mountain town of Pizzoferrato in the Abruzzi region of Italy, Sammartino emigrated to the United States and his where his body-building skills - he could bench press 565 pounds - were noticed by wrestling promoter Vince McMahon Sr., who began booking him fights. He went on to defeat inaugural WWWF champion Buddy Rogers a few years after his first match in 1963, holding the title for more than eight years. Bruno's first reign remains the longest single reign for a champion in WWE history at an astonishing 2,803 days, for a grand total of 4,040. He is generally regarded as one of the best professional wrestlers of all time, being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

Even during a time when the prestige of territorial wrestling championships still meant something thanks to how little they changed hands compared to today, Sammartino still stands alone for his longevity and consistency as a top draw.

The WWE called Sammartino's rise to fame and fortune "the story of the American dream", following a tough childhood. He would hold the title for another four years.

Sammartino won the WWE title a second time in 1973, and held it for another 3 years and 4 months.

ShinigamEVerified account @WWEBigE

Following his retirement from the sport in 1981, Sammartino would later serve as a commentator.

- ShinigamE (@WWEBigE) April 18, 2018Bruno is indirectly responsible for where I am today. 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. He joined his immigrant father in Pittsburgh in 1950.

"Devastated to hear the passing of a true icon, legend, great, honest and wonderful man".

As word of his death spread, WWE Superstars past and present took to social media to pay their respects to the legend.

My thoughts are with his entire family.

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