Bruno Sammartino was a professional wrestling pioneer and a true legend in WWF.
Wrestling pioneer Bruno Sammartino has died, WWE announced Wednesday. He was 82.
Born in Italy, Sammartino immigrated to western Pennsylvania and first caught the eye of wrestling promoters with his prowess as a strongman. He began his wrestling career in Pittsburgh and began working for Vince McMahon Sr.’s Capitol Wrestling Corporation in 1960. After a brief hiatus, he returned to McMahon’s WWWF, the predecessor to the WWF and WWE, in 1963.
Sammartino quickly became one of the nation’s most popular wrestlers and held the WWWF championship for nearly eight years, a record for any wrestling promotion. He dropped the belt to Ivan Koloff at Madison Square Garden in 1971 at one of the 187 sold-out wrestling shows at the Garden headlined by Sammartino.
Sammartino retired from the ring in 1981 but returned to WWF later to act as the manager for his son David. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.