Bruno Sammartino - the "Living Legend", passes away at 82

Bruno Sammartino

Bruno Sammartino

According to CBS Pittsburgh, Sammartino died peacefully with his wife and his twin sons, Darryl and Dan, by his side.

Born in Italy and a survivor of German occupation during World War II, Sammartino moved to Pittsburgh as a teenager in 1950 and began weight training as a way to ward off bullies, who attacked him because of his spindly frame and trouble with English.

Sammartino defeated Buddy Rogers in just 48 seconds to become the second-ever WWE champion in front of almost 20,000 fans on May 17, 1963, at the old Madison Square Garden.

His first reign of 2,803 days (May 1963-January 1971) is the longest single reign for the company's signature title, while his second reign of 1,237 days (December 1973-April 1977) is the fifth-longest in the world of the heavyweight championship.

As the man who inducted Bruno Sammartino into WWE's Hall of Fame in 2013, Arnold Schwarzenegger clearly had a close relationship with the Italian Superman.

I didn't even know that Sammartino was in poor health, so this is a shock to me.

Sammartino made wrestling mainstream from the 1960s on, well before the introduction of WrestleMania.

In 1968, he wrestled in three title matches against Ed Farhat, better known as "The Sheik", at Madison Square Garden, with the Sheik winning the first and being disqualified in the second, and Sammartino taking the third in a bloody battle billed as a "Texas Grudge Match".

Sad news. Bruno Sammartino has passed at 82.

Bruno retired from the ring in 1981, though returned to do commentary a few years later. "Everything I learned was from Bruno". 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.

"I was nicknamed after this professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino".

Triple H tweeted: "Devastated to hear the passing of a true icon, legend, great, honest and wonderful man". RIP Bruno. My thoughts and prayers are with his family today. Following the news of his passing, WWE stars paid tribute to Sammartino on social media.

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