WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino, who was best known for holding what was then known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) Championship for over 11 years across two reigns, died Wednesday morning in Pittsburgh.
Sammartino's wife Carol, and sons, Darryl and Dan were said to have been by his side when he passed away.
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. That 2,803-day reign (which factors out to seven years, eight months, and one day) is recognized by the WWE as the longest reign of their heavyweight championship, ever.
In 1963 Sammartino became the second ever WWE Champion, defeating Buddy Rogers in a breathtaking 48 seconds at Madison Square Garden.
WWE said: "The story of Bruno Sammartino is the story of the American dream".
- Frankie Kazarian (@FrankieKazarian) April 18, 2018At Wrestlemania 30 I had the chance to meet Bruno Sammartino. And after the news of the 82-year old's death became public, Schwarzenegger was quick to make a thoughtful post in the memory of his friend.
Dubbed "The Living Legend", Sammartino become the most popular wrestler in America in the 1960s and 1970s.
Following his retirement from the sport in 1981, Sammartino would later serve as a commentator.
Once Sammartino switched from power lifting to professional wrestling, he became the biggest star in history. "Everything I learned was from Bruno". They eventually joined Bruno's father in Pittsburgh in 1950. He is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Carol, and his three children.
"Devastated to hear the passing of a true icon, legend, honest and wonderful man". 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.
What are your thoughts on some of the WWE Universe's comments regarding Sammartino's passing?
We at Wrestling Rumors extend our deepest condolences to the entire Sammartino family during this hard time.