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Professional Wrestling Icon Bruno Sammartino Dies at 82

20 April 2018, 12:58 | Nina Hammond

Professional Wrestling Legend Bruno Sammartino Has Died

Bruno Sammartino – Wrestling Icon And Legend – Passes Away At 82

With AP Photos.Professional wrestling Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino has died.

Sammartino was one of the greatest athletes to ever take to the squared circle and a central figure in the rise of wrestling in America.

The charismatic Sammartino, an Italian immigrant who settled in Pittsburgh, certainly drew well in Italian-American communities on the east coast. He held the WWWF Heavyweight Championship for a record eight years before losing the title to Ivan Koloff in 1971, but would later regain the championship in 1973.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, who inducted Sammartino into the Hall of Fame in 2013, said: "Bruno Sammartino was a legend".

Other than his clear accolades and influence in the world of wrestling, Sammartino's first name is also the influence behind Peter Gene Hernandez's stage name- Bruno Mars.

Sammartino struck a cord with those who could relate to his struggles, including Peter Gene Hernandez, whose father nicknamed him "Bruno" by his father due to the resemblance to Bruno Sammartino. Bruno got into wrestling after being discovered while performing strongman stunts around Pittsburgh.

"Though he believed it literally at the time, Sammartino would experience fortune and fame first-hand as the longest-reigning WWE Champion and the most beloved competitor in the history of the squared circle".

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Sammartino continued to wrestle into his 50s as Vince McMahon Jr. built the then-WWF into a nationwide phenomenon in the 1980s, developing feuds with much younger stars as Randy "Macho Man" Savage and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper while also serving as a color commentator during television broadcasts. As part of the settlement, he returned as an announcer - and occasional wrestler - but willingly cut ties with the company in 1988 after it fired his son David.

The WWE opened a live event Wednesday night with a 10-bell salute for Sammartino.

Paul Levesque, a top WWE executive better known in the ring as Triple H, helped bring Sammartino back into the fold.

"I grew up watching Bruno". A true friend.and one of the toughest people I've ever met. A true role model and hero.

We at Wrestling Rumors extend our deepest condolences to the entire Sammartino family during this hard time.

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto said Sammartino was one of the city's greatest ambassadors.

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