Wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino has died at the age of 82, WWE confirmed on Wednesday. The only details on his passing at this time are that he'd been battling health issues for the past several months, and that he died peacefully.
Sammartino was born in Abruzzo, Italy, in 1935, and grew up in Nazi-occupied territory during World War II.
The grappler became the second-ever WWE Champion in 1963 when he defeated Buddy Rogers in 48 seconds. He held that title for nearly eight years - he still holds the record for longest reign ever in the history of wrestling. Sammartino was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.
The WWE has a great obituary and history of Bruno Sammartino on its site and we recommend you read it.
Some fans in the crowd were so shocked by Sammartino's loss that some fans were even crying. In 2013, after years of feuding with the younger McMahon over pro wrestling's turn to more vulgar story lines and its coddling of drug use by prominent stars, he accepted an invitation into the WWE Hall of Fame, with the ceremony held at a ideal locale.
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Sammartino, has passed away at the age of 82 years. He racked up many Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Match of the Year awards among other accolades.
"Bruno is indirectly responsible for where I am today". He was WWE's biggest and most recognizable star for almost two decades until the launch of Hulkamania and the company's national expansion through the creation of WrestleMania.
To try and best explain the impact Bruno Sammartino had on professional wrestling would be hard by today's measures, largely because there are simply no easy modern comparisons. He joined his immigrant father in Pittsburgh in 1950.
The wrestler is survived by his wife Carol and his sons David, Darryl and Dan 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".
WWE released the following statement about the passing of Sammartino. RIP Bruno. My thoughts and prayers are with his family today.