Published: Thu, April 19, 2018
Medical | By Mark Scott

Professional Wrestling Legend Bruno Sammartino Has Died

Professional Wrestling Legend Bruno Sammartino Has Died

The professional wrestling world is mourning the loss of one of the all-time greatest in-ring performers, Bruno Sammartino, who died at age 82.

Sammartino's wife Carol, and sons, Darryl and Dan were said to have been by his side when he passed away. The outlet says he He died "peacefully" after recently battling health issues.

Sammartino, an Italian immigrant who moved to Pittsburgh in his teens, became a cultural icon throughout the Northeast U.S. during his 30-plus-year wrestling career.

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.

He held the WWE Championship for almost eight years, according to WWE, which was the longest reign of all time.

- Nattie (@NatbyNature) April 18, 2018This photo is from the first mention of Bruno Sammartino I can find in our archives, from a 1958 story in the Pittsburgh Press titled "Pittsburgh Hercules".

Sammartino was unabashedly proud of his Italian heritage and knew that many of his fellow Italians had to deal with instances of ignorance and racism, so it came as no surprise when this was incorporated into a 1985 feud with the always-controversial Roddy Piper. He would hold the title for another four years.

With a reign lasting over eight years, Sammartino is not only the longest reigning champion in WWE - but also in professional wrestling history.

Sammartino became a broadcaster on WWE's weekend morning shows before his frustration over the company's direction into campier storylines and an outrage over the drug culture he said had permeated the industry led to a bitter, two-decade split with McMahon. Today he is better known as Bruno Mars. "Growing up in Pittsburgh, he was my father's hero, and sparked my dad's passion for the business that he passed on to me", Corey Graves added.

WWE released the following statement about the passing of Sammartino. Triple H described him as a "true friend...and one of the toughest people I've ever met", while Ted DiBiase called him an "icon amongst icons".

Our thoughts are with his family and fans during this painful time.

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