Bruno Sammartino: legendary wrestler dies at 82

The 'Italian Superman' will be remembered as, and will likely remain the longest-reigning heavyweight champion WWF/WWE's long and illustrious history.

Kahron Spearman

Bruno Sammartino, one of the essential superstars in professional wrestling history, has passed away at age 82.



Sammartino will be best remembered publicly as the then-World Wide Wrestling Federation's longest-reigning world champion, a belt he held for almost eight continuous years. He won the belt in a dominating 48-second squash match win over the legendary Buddy Rogers at Madison Square Garden on May 17, 1963.

Bruno Sammartino was a legend. He was the American Dream personified. From his childhood in Italy hiding from Nazis to selling out Madison Square Garden 188 times as the biggest star of professional wrestling, he was a hero in every stage of his life. And away from the spotlights and attention, he had the biggest heart you can imagine. Ill miss you, Bruno.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

He would not relinquish the belt until a loss to Ivan Koloff on Jan. 18, 1971; but even the loss was eventful. 


After the pinfall, Koloff walked carefully around the ring as the ref raised his hand three times. The announcer came into the ring with the championship belt, but didn't hand it directly to Koloff, fearing a riot from an emotional crowd. 


Sammartino stayed inside to keep the crowd's attention until Koloff left. (Koloff would lose just three weeks later to Pedro Morales.)


Sammartino regained the belt in 1973 and remain champion for another three years.