Bruno Sammartino

Bruno Sammartino: Wrestling's Living Legend


Bruno Sammartino official website

Bruno Sammartino WWE website

Bruno Sammartino announced as WWE Hall of Fame 2013 inductee (WWE official website)


Bruno Sammartino at WWE RAW; Crowd sings Happy Birthday - 7th October 2013

Bruno Sammartino and Triple H comment on WWE 2013 Hall of Fame induction - Feb 2013

Bruno Sammartino and WWE confirms his Hall of Fame induction for 2013

WWE still attempting to secure Bruno for Hall of Fame

WWE looking to produce Bruno Sammartino movie or documentary in 2012 - 2013


Bruno Sammartino and Triple H comment on WWE 2013 Hall of Fame induction


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Monday afternoon, WWE's website released comments from Bruno Sammartino and Triple H on how Bruno's 2013 WWE Hall of Fame induction was finally agreed upon.

"Triple H contacted me and started telling me all the things that had changed and everything that was going on with WWE," Bruno said. "I started watching it after talking to him and when I saw it, I was very, very impressed."

Hunter said, "I love the history of this business. Without the history, there is no tomorrow. To look back on the history of WWE, one of the most important figures in the long story of where this all came from wasn't recognized. And that was Bruno."

True pro wrestling fans know that Bruno Sammartino is to professional wrestling what Babe Ruth is to baseball.

The legendary pro wrestling icon is the longest reigning WWE (then-WWF) champion of all time, with two title reigns spanning an eye-popping 11-plus years. And his legacy of headlining Madison Square Garden more than 200 times is what turned the Italian-born grappler into a worldwide sensation.

So it’s only fitting that Sammartino will be the main attraction at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony on April 6 at MSG.

Bruno Sammartino is being named to the WWE's Hall after decades of spirited feuding with WWE top brass Vince McMahon.

“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame at Madison Square Gardens is the biggest thing in my life,” Sammartino said in an exclusive interview for ESPN Playbook. “Anytime that people feel that you accomplished enough to enter into a Hall of Fame, of course this is a tremendous, tremendous thrill for me. I had a lot of my success due to appearing at the Garden. I wrestled there over 200 times, it’s where I won the title, and it’s where I picked up 630-plus pounds of Haystacks Calhoun.”

And while Sammartino had turned down the WWE’s previous offers of inducting him into its Hall of Fame due to a well-documented feud with the wrestling organization’s CEO and chairman Vince McMahon over a wide range of issues -- from Sammartino not liking the vulgar direction the product took during the Attitude Era to Sammartino’s criticism of drug abuse by members of the roster back in the '80s - it was WWE executive Paul Levesque (aka Triple H) who stepped in and finally changed the legend’s mind.

“In talking to Paul Levesque, I made it clear, I’ve had issues with WWE and wrestling in general, because there were other organizations,” Sammartino said. “I didn’t like the direction they had taken. It was bothersome to me. I’m an old-school guy. I spent 25 years in this business. But after talking to Paul, and him explaining to me the changes they’ve made in their program, and how they’ve hired a doctor like Dr. Maroon, who is a world-renowned neurosurgeon, who also operated on me, and now that he has been put in charge of the company’s wellness program and their drug testing, that impressed me. I know what kind of a man he is, and he is a giant in that field, so I take my hat off to WWE because they took such huge steps to make things better for the wrestlers themselves and making sure they are healthy to perform. That was very, very important.

“But as Paul explained to me, WWE made a lot of other changes. There’s no more profanity, there’s no vulgarity in the current product, and that stuff had bothered me as well. When Paul first spoke to me and told me all the changes, I started watching it again, and I was very convinced that they are doing amazing things. I see the wrestlers and all the changes they made. There’s no profanity, there’s no vulgarity, and it’s a family-friendly program. That’s what it used to be, and that’s a huge role in the whole factor.”

In finally inking the deal with Sammartino, WWE sees this as an opportunity to not only celebrate everything he has done for the business but also add legitimacy to its Hall of Fame.

“From a legitimacy standpoint, it’s important for us to get Bruno in,” Levesque said. “He’s one of the biggest names there has ever been in the business. So for us to not have him in there, for the legitimacy of the whole thing, it was a major issue. For me, the more important thing was that nobody deserves to be recognized for being a big star and paving the way for the stars of today more than Bruno. Everything that we have today in the business, Bruno was a cornerstone of that foundation. He truly is a living legend.

"I take my hat off to WWE because they took such huge steps to make things better for the wrestlers themselves and making sure they are healthy to perform. That was very, very important" Sammartino said.

“As we started getting into Hall of Fame season, it’s almost like this storyline wrote itself. To have Bruno Sammartino brought into the Hall of Fame in Madison Square Garden, a building he sold out more than anybody in the world, that’s a remarkable achievement. It was an opportunity to honor Bruno, but it was also an opportunity for our fans.

“There has been this bad blood between Bruno and the WWE for years, and we’re not trying to hide any of it, but I just felt like we are at a point where a lot of it can be resolved. Our wellness program and the way our programming is now, a lot of people are unaware of it, so I felt like if I could get Bruno on the phone and I could run down a list of those things that he didn’t like, I could show him how we changed. We’re PG, family-friendly entertainment with a wellness program that is truly based on the wellness of our performers. We want them to be healthy and live long, productive lives. So I just felt that if Bruno knew about those things, he might feel differently, and eventually, that’s what came to be.”

While Bruno has accepted the WWE’s offer to make an appearance at the Hall of Fame, he still hasn’t had the chance to speak to Vince McMahon, as Levesque is organizing a sit-down so the two can resolve any lingering issues face-to-face.

“Clearly, Vince knew about this right from the get-go, and when I said I wanted to reach out to Bruno, Vince was probably thinking, ‘Well, good luck with that,’” Levesque said. “So Bruno and I established this relationship, and as we came to an understanding on all of this, Vince asked me, ‘Hey, do you think I should call Bruno? I’d like to talk to him.’ At the same time, Bruno said, ‘Do you think I should have a conversation with Vince?’ And I said no to both of them. I didn’t think it was right to do over the phone. They had bad blood for a long time, and we’ve all kind of buried the hatchet here, and it’s a new beginning and a fresh start and everybody is in a great place with this. But going back to what Bruno said about being old-school, I think we should all get in the same room together and the two of them should look each other in the eyes and shake hands. This should be in person. I don’t think it’s right to do over the phone. They both agreed to do that, and while it hasn’t happened yet, Hall of Fame is probably where we’ll make that happen. Vince and Bruno will see each other for the first time in years and officially, in person, look each other in the eyes and bury that hatchet.”

As for trying to keep the announcement a secret, “it’s not ‘Mission Impossible’ or anything like that,” Levesque says, laughing. “But to me, Bruno getting into the Hall of Fame in Madison Square Garden is the biggest induction we’ve ever done, and rightfully so. He deserves that. So to just have it leak out there, that would’ve been wrong. This is a huge moment in time, and a massive moment for our fans, for Bruno and for WWE. This is the history of our business. Without Bruno Sammartino, we aren’t where we are today.”

The Media Man agency would like to thank all parties for helping make the Bruno Sammartino induction possible. Very well done to Triple H and Sammartino for talking through the issues that existed, and resolving them.

Wrestling fans, both hardcores and casual fans are rejoicing, and this massive news will make this years WWE Hall of Fame off the charts and WrestleMania week will be like nothing seen ever before.

WWE's history is now almost complete. Join with us... Bruno, Bruno Bruno... Triple H, Triple H, Triple H.

What a great time to be a "sports entertainment" fan, which many of still prefer to call it on its foundation "professional wrestling".





Longest Reigning Champ Back After Twenty-Five Year Break From WWE

Nearly fifty years ago, Bruno Sammartino became the WWWF Champion for then promoter Vincent McMahon Sr. Thereafter, in two separate stints covering more than 11 years, Bruno held the coveted Championship Belt for what is now the WWE. Today, the WWE announced that Bruno Sammartino will be inducted into in the WWE Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at Madison Square Garden.

Over a quarter of a century ago, Mr. Sammartino disassociated with WWE over the direction it was taking as "sports entertainment" instead of an arena-based professional wrestling product. The vocal former Champ also spoke out on steroid use in professional wrestling by appearing on many high profile shows like The Geraldo Rivera Show, The Donahue Show and The Larry King Show.

For years, Sammartino rejected the Hall of Fame invitation for the many publicized reasons. However, since that time, through relationships with both Dr. Joseph Maroon and Paul Levesque, Bruno has learned that WWE has evolved and is impressed with WWE’s Talent Wellness Program and its family-friendly content.

In 2009, the WWE hired world-renowned Neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon as Medical Director, to head their Talent Wellness Program. Maroon additionally, hand-picked a team of Concussion, Orthopedic, Cardiology and Internal Medicine doctors from UPMC in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, from the hometown healthcare system that Sammartino is a patient of. Unbeknownst to the WWE at the time, Dr. Maroon had previously successfully performed an extensive invasive surgical procedure on Bruno to relieve extensive spinal cord compression that had left the Champ immobilized and unable to walk. After the surgery and without the aid of any pain medications, Bruno devised his own physical rehabilitation program and regained the ability to walk seven miles daily.

Needless to say, Bruno became a fan of Dr. Maroon’s and even agreed to be part of a book authored by Dr. Maroon titled "The Longevity Factor". Bruno followed the famous surgeon’s wellness advice provided in the book, and began to take fish oil on a daily basis. Knowing the effects of taking hundreds of hits to the head (many with metal chairs), Bruno was further impressed by Dr. Maroon’s co-invention of the worldwide baseline IMPACT concussion testing, which was developed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Dr. Maroon serves as a concussion specialist to the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It was not hard for the WWE to establish credibility thereafter with Bruno when they began taking major steps to test its talent for concussions, as well as use of performance-enhancing drugs, disease, heart problems, and overall wellness. Bruno was contacted numerous times by Triple H, but he still declined to discuss the Hall of Fame. Bruno ultimately conceded because Killer Kowalski (Brunos most long time respected opponet) trained Triple H, which enabled Bruno and Triple H to develop their own “old school” friendship.

The final factor that convinced Sammartino that the time was right to enter the WWE Hall of Fame was when his fans all over the world overload Sammartino with letters asking him to reconsider for the fans’ sake. The 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is being held in New York’s Madison Square Garden, where Bruno appeared an unprecedented 211 times, picked-up the 625-pound wrestler, Haystacks Calhoun, and won the title on May 17, 1963, nearly 50 years ago.

Sammartino walked 6 miles this morning after eating a bowl of oatmeal. He has never used steroids, performance enhancement drugs, HGT injections or transfusions. With a big smile on his face, Bruno said "my mother will be proud that I will not need to have Lance Armstrong or Hulk Hogan help with my speech. Good conquers evil - it just takes a lifetime to see the final score.”

Sammartino remains the childhood hero of many world leaders, movie and sporting superstars and a whole lot of people who are just inspired by seeing a weakling become a physical success and role model. The Champ was bullied as a kid, but later in life beat adversity, sickness, war, Japanese Giants, a bear, an orangutan, all challengers and all evil, all due to a mother’s love.

Currently, a documentary on Bruno’s personal life is being bid on by distributors, and a feature film is being evaluated by a major studio. A life-sized statue of the Champ is planned for 2013 in Pittsburgh PA.



Bruno Sammartino, "The Living Legend" to Enter WWE Hall of Fame

February 4, 2013 STAMFORD, Conn., February 4, 2013 – WWE (NYSE:WWE) announced today that Bruno Sammartino will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at Madison Square Garden.

Sammartino, nicknamed “The Living Legend,” is a two-time WWE Champion and the longest reigning WWE Champion in history, holding the title for a combined 11 years. His first title reign began on May 17, 1963, where he defeated “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers at Madison Square Garden. After losing the Championship in 1971, he regained the title on December 10, 1973, defeating Stan Stasiak at Madison Square Garden, holding the Championship until April 30, 1977. When he retired from the ring, Sammartino became a color commentator for WWE’s syndicated Superstars program and stepped back into the ring on special occasions. After his departure in 1988, Sammartino was openly critical of WWE, and for many years declined the offer to be inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame, citing concerns with WWE’s content and culture.

“For my fans around the world, I am pleased to be joining the WWE Hall of Fame, especially at Madison Square Garden,” said Bruno Sammartino.

“Having sold out more than 200 shows at Madison Square Garden and being the longest reigning WWE champion in history, Bruno Sammartino is truly ‘The Living Legend,’” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman and CEO. “This is an extraordinary and historic moment to have Bruno take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.”

Tickets for the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony are currently available through all Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling 1-800-745-3000. All tickets are subject to service charges and facility fees. For more information on Bruno Sammartino, please visit
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WWE Hall Of Fame Discussions Begin, Would Bruno Sammartino Be Inducted?
(Wrestling Inc)

WWE Hall of Fame discussions have started. According to a source, Bruno Sammartino remains at the top of the list. Others that key officials have discussed include Mick Foley, Triple H, The Freebirds, Regis Philbin (in the celebrity wing), Bob Backlund, Larry Zbyszko, Sid Vicious, Earthquake John Tenta and Paul Heyman. The feeling is the timing isn't right for Heyman, since he is penciled in to be a major part of one of the marquee WrestleMania 29 matches and as a heel, it would create an awkward atmosphere.

Vince McMahon has not commented on the suggested entries, but should be deciding who is going in within the next several weeks.

According to a source close to Bruno, he has not closed the door to a possible induction. He apparently would agree to be inducted ONLY if the money is right, which be believes is about respect and to rectify "past financial injustices." Bruno feels that WWE has not been fair with him in the past with royalties related to the marketing of his merchandise and action figures, and that the situation must be addressed before he would consider being inducted.

Bruno is also adamant that any deal that he makes to enter the WWE Hall of Fame is made independent of any financing or distribution deal for the potential theatrical film to be made of his life. He would like for that movie to be made, but is financially "very comfortable" and would not be heartbroken if it is not.

Bruno is said to be open to talking to Triple H at any time, and has always been open to take his calls. The source also noted that Bruno has never told Triple H not to call him and never will.


The place: New York's famed Madison Square Garden. The time: May 17, 1963. He wore the world's heavyweight championship belt for the first time in his life, four years after turning into a professional wrestler. Since then he had held that title for fourteen years, undefeated except on one occasion in 1971. He was a consummate athlete, and he commanded respect from friend and foe alike. He held a wrestling attendance record in Australia for selling out twenty-one consecutive nights and he once drew in an estimated crowd of 40,000 fans in a bull ring in Caracas, Venezuela. It's no surprise that Bruno Sammartino is truly known as wrestling's living legend!

Bruno was born in Abruzzi, Italy and immigrated here to the United States at age 15. His lifelong dream since age 8 was to become a wrestler. He idolized a Greco-Roman wrestler named Batisti who represented Italy in the Olympics in the 30's. He loved amateur wrestling, but he said it's not really a spectator sport because it didn't have any thrills or surprises. In pro wrestling, you have to add a lot of stuff to make it exciting. While going to high school during the day, Bruno worked out constantly at a local gym in Pittsburgh where he lived.

His first job while living here in America was as a construction worker and during the evening he wrestled at various arenas. He finally turned pro in 1959. Then on May 17, 1963, Bruno defeated Nature Boy Buddy Rogers to capture the WWWF Heavyweight Wrestling Championship and from that night on he successfully defended his title with such enthusiasm and tenacity that no other wrestler could ever hope to defeat him.

That is, until he met "The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff. Koloff became the new heavyweight champion by defeating Sammartino on January 18, 1971 in Madison Square Garden. It was a night of humiliation for Bruno and a night of victory for Koloff who boasted and bragged about how he became the only man to ever defeat Sammartino, and that Bruno was no living legend.

And from that night emerged a devastating feud that would become historic in the annals of professional wrestling. Koloff subsequently lost the title to Pedro Morales at Madison Square Garden a month later on February 8, and Morales held the belt for two years, then lost it to Stan "The Man" Stasiak. Stasiak held the title for a mere nine days before losing to Sammartino on December 10,1973. The living legend then became the first two-time WWWF champion.

Throughout his entire career, Bruno has met and fought challenger after challenger and emerged victorious in the WWWF. Most of his matches have been grueling and sometimes have ended in controversy. But no matter the outcome, Bruno has defended his title with such tenacity that he truly lives up to being called the "living legend."

Bruno had also introduced the fans to two protégés that he had trained: Larry Zbyzsko and Spiros Arion. Zbyszko was also from Pittsburgh and became an almost identical wrestler to Sammartino. He was very successful and talented during his WWWF tenure, and even won the tag team championship along with Tony Garea by defeating the Yukon Lumberjacks. But he always thought he was in the shadow of Sammartino, and decided he didn't need to follow Bruno any longer, resulting in a bitter rivalry. This teacher vs. student feud ultimately ended before an excited crowd at New York's Shea Stadium when Bruno defeated Zbyszko in a steel cage match.

Spiros Aaron was another friend who became one of Bruno's bitter enemies. Spiros was born in Athens, Greece and had been wrestling since he was a teenager. He was a fan favorite and had also become a very good technical, scientific wrestler during his time in the WWWF. Spiros became friends and eventually a tag team partner with Bruno. During their brief partnership they were very successful as a tag team, but it wasn't about to last. Aaron had his mind tainted by Freddie Blassie, who somehow convinced Spiros that Bruno was jealous of him and that he was not to be trusted. The confused athlete would eventually dump Sammartino as his tag team partner. After an incident which involved Bruno, Spiros and Chief Jay Strongbow, Spiros sided with Blassie and viciously turned on Bruno. However, the two unsuccessfully tried to wrestle the title from the living legend.

Opponent after opponent, feud after feud, no one could take the title from the waist of Sammartino. Wrestlers from Ivan Koloff , The Executioners, Cowboy Bob Duncum, to Nikolai Volkoff, The Valiant Brothers, Waldo Von Erich & Buggsy McGraw fought fierce battles but in the end Sammartino emerged victorious.

Then it happened, in Philadelphia on May 1,1977. Bruno Sammartino has been defeated and lost the heavyweight championship to Superstar Billy Graham. The reign of wrestling's living legend was over. Bruno would never again regain the championship he so proudly defended for 14 years.

Throughout his career in the WWWF, in every championship bout that Bruno fought in at Madison Square Garden it was to record crowds. Bruno's claim to fame was that during his career he had never lost a steel cage match. Bruno also became the only wrestler in WWWF history to ever wrestle in Shea Stadium....twice. Once in a rematch between the master of The Lariat, Stan Hansen and in a steel cage match against his former pupil Larry Zbyszko.

Bruno had survived against every hold & maneuver his opponents used on him: "The Lariat", "The Heart-Punch", "The Claw", "The Axe", and "The Swinging Neckbreaker", every kind of match from a "Texas Death" & "Russian Chain" to even a "Sicilian Stretcher" match and he still held onto the title. Managers like The Grand Wizard, Fred Blassie and Captain Louis Albano continuously dogged the trail of Sammartino plotting his defeat in their quest for the gold.

Stan Stasiak, George "The Animal" Steele, Bruiser Brody, Tor Kamata, Ernie Ladd, Killer Kowalski, and Ken Patera all faced the mettle and wrath of Bruno and realized the he would never go down in defeat and that he had more heart and determination than any wrestler they would ever face. There will never be another wrestler like Sammartino, he honored and cherished being world champion than any wrestler wrestling today. He truly will forever be known as wrestling true living legend.


Wrestling Legends: Bruno Sammartino profile

Mario Milano


World Wrestling Entertainment


Wresting Museum: Bruno Sammartino - Photos & Bio

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