WWE Hall of Famer, wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino dead at 82

Wrestling icon Bruno Sammartino dies at 82

Wrestling icon Bruno Sammartino dies at 82

WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino has died aged 82.

During his childhood in the small Italian mountain town of Abruzzi, Italy, Bruno Sammartino heard stories about how the streets in the United States were paved with gold.

With the WWWF reigning as the top wrestling promotion in the NY area, Bruno Sammartino became the company's second world champion, defeating Buddy Rogers on May 17, 1963.

After regaining the title in December 1973, Sammartino went on to have a run of more than three years; that's also one of the five-longest world title reigns in the company's history.

Sammartino, The Italian Superman, began wrestling in 1959, and soon became a megastar in the Northeast, filling Madison Square Garden every month in main-event matches.

"Rest in power and thank you Bruno Sammartino".

Sammartino enjoyed rivalries against fellow WWE Hall of Famers such as Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon and George "The Animal" Steele.

Even more inspiring than the success and longevity of Sammartino's pro wrestling career was his backstory, which sounds right out of a movie.

A rocky relationship between Sammartino and the WWF (now WWE) burdgeoned following his exit from the company in the late '80s, as he was an outspoken critic of current company executive Vince McMahon and WWE, lambasting the direction of the industry. Wrestling's "living legend" was Hulk Hogan before Hulk Hogan, the most popular wrestler of the 1960s and 1970s, holding the then-WWWF Heavyweight Championship only twice, but holding onto it for over 11 years.

Sad news. Bruno Sammartino has passed at 82. According to the WWE, he retired from the ring in 1981 and a few years later he returned as a broadcaster until 1988.

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

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

Scroll down below to see other stars react to Sammartino's passing. 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.

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