Wednesday, April 18, 2018

WWE Hall of Fame legend Bruno 'Italian Strongman' Sammartino passes away, aged 82

Bruno Sammartino, one of the most iconic stars in professional wrestling history, has died at age 82, the WWE announced Wednesday morning.

Sammartino was the then-World Wide Wrestling Federation's longest-reigning world champion, holding the title for nearly eight consecutive years. He began his record title reign after beating Buddy Rogers at Madison Square Garden 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.

"The Italian Superman" headlined more than 180 sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden, and he had memorable rivalries against the likes of Superstar Billy Graham, Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon and George "The Animal" Steele, among many others.

After a falling-out with the company that lasted more than two decades, Sammartino returned to the fold in 2013, when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Arnold Schwarzenegger at Madison Square Garden.

"Nobody deserves to be recognized for being a big star and paving the way for the stars of today more than Bruno," said WWE executive Paul "Triple H" Levesque, at the time of Sammartino's induction.

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