Bruno Sammartino leaves behind an unparalleled legacy as a builder in sports entertainment.
The Wrestling community is mourning one of their greats. The WWE confirmed this morning the passing of the second-ever World Champion in their companies storied history at the summit of the sport. Remarkably, Bruno Sammartino, aged 82 at the time of his passing, held the Heavyweight Championship for nearly 8 years, in what is to this day by far the longest reign in sports entertainment. Beginning in 1963, he won the title in just over 48 seconds in front of an audience of 20,000 and held onto it until 1971.
The day he lost the title from his initial reign to Ivan Koloff, "grown men" were said to be weeping as a result. Never the less, Sammartino was back on top shortly thereafter, recapturing the title in '73 and holding onto it for an additional three-and-a-half years.
For his efforts, Bruno Sammartino was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013 with a heartfelt introductory speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The tip-off was fitting as Bruno had begun his ascension as a bodybuilder in the late 50s. Bruno's story is one of perseverance and displacement. His family hid from Nazi forces in rural Italy, and like so many others, rebuilt their lives on different soil. May he rest in peace and his legacy live on for future generations of wrestling.