Professional wrestling legend and WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino died Wednesday at the age of 82. 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. Speaking virtually no English when he arrived in the United States in 1950, Sammartino put in the work to become a success and prove the American Dream was real.
Sammartino quickly became an overnight sensation thus making him an instant fan favorite especially after defeating Buddy Rogers in front of 20,000 fans at Madison Square Garden in 1963. He sold out Madison Square Garden 187 times and captured the hearts of fans as one of the longest-reigning world champions for WWF, holding the belt for almost 8 consecutive years.
Hansen was mortified at what had happened and nearly didn't call Sammartino, but when he did call him, Bruno told him he knew it was a mistake and accepted his apology.
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Sammartino, who was 83, began wrestling in the late 1950s and spent more than a decade as the most popular wrestler in the old WWWF. Three years later, he won the WWWF belt in NY with a 48-second defeat of Buddy Rogers. Today he is better known as Bruno Mars. Of course in those days, the pro-wrestling promotion was not called "WWE", but it's the same company - just with a very different look and reach.
The City of Pittsburgh, where Sammartino lived during his adult life, took to Twitter to honor the legend: "We lost another legend today".
Our thoughts are with his family and fans during this painful time.