Bruno Sammartino Dies at 82

Bruno Sammartino has died aged 82 the WWE has confirmed

But Sammartino soon grew exhausted of promoter Vince McMahon's outlandish storylines that became more focused on sports entertainment than good wrestling and was outraged over the drug culture he said had permeated the industry.

In 1963, he defeated Buddy "Natural Guy" Rogers in just 48 seconds to become the second-ever World Wrestling Entertainment champion in front of almost 20,000 fans at the old Madison Square Garden in New York City. During this time, he entered some of the most notable rivalries in WWE history as he faced the likes of Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon and George "The Animal" Steele.

The WWE confirmed the news that the Hall of Famer, whose nickname was "The Living Legend", passed away on Wednesday, April 18.

He held the WWE Championship for almost eight years, according to WWE, which was the longest reign of all time.

VAVEL would like to extend its condolences to the family of Bruno Sammartino as well as the friends and fans who mourn in his passing.

Mr McMahon tweeted: "One of the finest men I knew, in life and in business". Professional wrestling promoter Vincent J. McMahon helped propel Sammartino into a star in sports entertainment, but it was his victory over Buddy Rogers at Madison Square Garden in 1963 that won him the WWE Championship.

After leaving Italy with his family following the World War II, Sammartino settled in Pittsburgh. When he lost the title to Ivan Koloff in 1971, grown men in the crowd were seen weeping, but on December 10, 1973, Sammartino became the first two-time WWE Champion and held the title for an additional three-and-a-half years. Not only was the stocky and barrel-chested Sammartino a legitimate strongman who once set a world record in the bench press in 1959, his brawling in-ring style was believable because of the truly tough man who was hardly playing a character at all. His 1980 steel-cage match against former protege Larry Zbyszko headlined a prominent card at Shea Stadium in Queens, drawing more than 36,000 fans.

Yet despite the division between the two sides, Sammartino's estranged relationship with WWE came to an end in 2013 when Triple H played a key role in convincing Sammartino to accept an induction to the WWE Hall of Fame.

Sammartino and Hulk Hogan - the biggest long-term money-making draws in WWE history - tagged together in the Legend's final match.

"My broken neck is for real".

Kurt Angle posted a long tribute to Sammartino on Instagram, which read: "My hometown hero, Bruno Sammartino has passed".

"Through his uncommon strength and surprising grace he embodied the spirit of Pittsburgh on the world stage", Peduto said. Seriously. I watch a lot of movies.

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