On the 18th April, it was announced that Bruno Sammartino had passed away. He was 82.
Bruno was born in Pizzoferrato, Italy on the 6th October 1935 and during the Second World War, he hid along with his mother and siblings in the area in Villa Rocca. When they emigrated to meet up with his father in Pittsburgh in 1950, Bruno took up weightlifting and wrestling and was very close to representing the United States at weightlifting in the 1956 Olympics. Local wrestling promoter Rudy Miller saw him on TV and recruited him into professional wrestling.
Bruno wrestled in Pittsburgh and then Canada after being suspended for missing dates in Chicago and Baltimore. After suspension, he joined the WWWF (a precursor to the WWF) and defeated Buddy Rogers to become the WWWF Champion, reigning for 2801 days. During his career at the WWWF, Bruno went on to become WWWF Champion once more and a Tag Team Champion 3 times. Bruno retired from wrestling in 1987.
I have never seen him wrestle but I saw him in the corner of his son David at Wrestlemania I. His time at the WWWF/WWF was not always great with him being screwed out of his share of gate receipts amongst other things. Bruno was highly critical of the direction the WWF was going for years. However, in 2013, thanks to Triple H, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame after being satisfied with the new direction that the company was going.
Bruno was dubbed "The Living Legend" during his career and based on the tributes given by people after his death, it's hard to argue with that. Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto remembered him as "one of the greatest ambassadors the city of Pittsburgh ever had". I wish that I had got the chance to watch videos of him wrestle but it is something that I will be doing in the near future.
Bruno is survived by his wife Carol and his three children: David, Danny and Darryl.