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Bruno Sammartino - the "Living Legend", passes away at 82
19 April 2018, 01:57 | Mandy Simon
Professional Wrestling Legend Bruno Sammartino Has Died
Born on October 15, 1935, Sammartino grew up in Pizzoferrato, Italy before immigrating to the United States with his family, settling in Oakland, Pa. One of Pittsburgh's all-time great sportsmen and great people.
An icon in professional wrestling, Sammartino held the WWWF - now the WWE - Championship for almost eight years, the longest reign in company history.
Sammartino would continue to be estranged from WWE until 2013 when he agreed to be inducted into the Hal of Fame after a meeting with Triple H. Sammartino was assured the business had changed and become "cleaner".
Especially popular in the Northeast, Sammartino wrestled for the first time at the "new" Madison Square Garden - the stadium now standing above Penn Station - just eight days after it opened in 1968; he sold out the arena 187 times out of 211 appearances, according to the Post-Gazette.
He would hold the belt until a loss to Ivan Koloffin 1971. Sammartino became a broadcaster for the company in the 1980s and later became outspoken about the company's evolving philosophy that put the emphasis on entertainment. RIP Bruno. My thoughts and prayers are with his family today. He joined his immigrant father in Pittsburgh in 1950. He was the face of the World Wide Wrestling Federation when it was promoted by Vincent J. McMahon.
Sammartino's gentle nature and soft-spoken nature, combined with his fierce prowess in the ring against a host of villainess opponents, made him an instant sensation.
During his long title reign, Sammartino's popularity skyrocketed as he entertained fans by feuding with the likes of Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon, and George "The Animal" Steele. The second title reign lasted more than three years. He was in his son David's corner for a bout at the first WrestleMania in 1985.
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. When the entire family finally moved to the United States, Sammartino suffered health ailments from those tumultuous years that led to bullying and teasing.
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