The man with WWE's longest championship reign has passed away.
At one point, Bruno Sammartino was one of the biggest sports stars in the world. He was headlining wrestling cards at Madison Square Garden while he was breaking records as the champion of the WWWF (one of WWE's former name). At this time, there has been no cause of death announced but Sammartino was 82.
The following is an excerpt of the statement from WWE.com.
WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino passed away at age 82.
The story of Bruno Sammartino is the story of the American dream.
During his childhood in the small Italian mountain town of Abruzzi, Italy, Bruno Sammartino heard stories about how the streets in the United States were paved with gold. Though he believed it literally at the time, Sammartino would experience fortune and fame first-hand as the longest-reigning WWE Champion and the most beloved competitor in the history of the squared circle.
Life wasn’t always so glorious for The Italian Superman. Bruno’s brother and sister both passed away at young ages, and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi forces seized their town, but Bruno persevered. He and his mother hid in a mountain called Valla Rocca during the German occupation and eventually joined his immigrant father in Pittsburgh in 1950.
Sammartino began lifting weights as a young man and grew to become one of the strongest men on the planet. After setting a world record in 1959 by bench-pressing 565 pounds, Sammartino caught the eye of Vincent J. McMahon, and became a sports-entertainer.
On the WWE YouTube, there is this championship match of his at Madison Square Garden.