WWE legend Bruno Sammartino has died at the age of 82.
The WWE confirmed the news that the Hall of Famer, whose nickname was “The Living Legend,” passed away on Wednesday, April 18. According to CBS Pittsburgh, Sammartino died peacefully with his wife and his twin sons, Darryl and Dan, by his side. He had reportedly been battling health issues for the past two months.
The sports entertainer first rose to fame in 1959 when he began working with wrestling promoter Vince McMahon, and in 1963, he became the second-ever WWE Champion. He held that title for almost eight years – he still holds the record for longest reign ever in the history of wrestling.
Sammartino was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013 by Arnold Schwarzenegger after he headlined and sold out Madison Square Garden 188 times. According to the WWE, he retired from the ring in 1981 and a few years later he returned as a broadcaster until 1988. The WWE and its stars have been sending an outpouring of love and support to the wrestling star and his family. “WWE extends its condolences to Sammartino’s family, friends and fans,” the company wrote via their website.
McMahon tweeted: “One of the finest men I knew, in life and in business. Bruno Sammartino proved that hard work can overcome even the most difficult of circumstances. He will be missed. #RIPLivingLegend.”
“RIP Bruno, thank you for loving and living our business, only love HH,” Hulk Hogan tweeted.
“Bruno is indirectly responsible for where I am today. Growing up in Pittsburgh, he was my father’s hero, and sparked my dad’s passion for the business that he passed on to me,” Corey Graves wrote via Twitter. “I was lucky enough to spend some time with Bruno, and the man exemplified class. #RIPBruno.”
Devastated to hear the passing of a true icon, legend, great, honest and wonderful man…
A true friend…and one of the toughest people I’ve ever met.
My thoughts are with his entire family. #RIPBrunoSammartino #AmericanDream
— Triple H (@TripleH) April 18, 2018
“Devastated to hear the passing of a true icon, legend, great, honest and wonderful man,” professional wrestler Triple H also tweeted. “A true friend…and one of the toughest people I’ve ever met. My thoughts are with his entire family. #RIPBrunoSammartino #AmericanDream.”
RIP Bruno,thank you for loving and living our business,only love HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) April 18, 2018
The City of Pittsburgh, where Sammartino lived during his adult life, took to Twitter to honor the legend: “We lost another legend today. @citypgh & South Oakland will always be home to Bruno Sammartino. May he Rest In Peace. #RIPBrunoSammartino.”
The wrestler is survived by his wife Carol and his sons David, Darryl and Dan Sammartino.
Scroll down below to see other stars react to Sammartino’s passing.
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. pic.twitter.com/29KDwT3gcA
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) April 18, 2018
Forever a champion. Rest In Peace pic.twitter.com/f3ywW4opje
— Bret Hart (@BretHart) April 18, 2018
Growing up, my grandfather Stu Hart would ALWAYS talk about Bruno Sammartino and what an incredible wrestler he was. I’m so grateful I had the chance to meet Bruno and tell him how much he meant to my grandfather and the entire Hart family. We will all miss you, Bruno. 🙏♥️ pic.twitter.com/Dclu5hMGa6
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) April 18, 2018
Sad to hear that we lost a great one #BrunoSammartino today. Thoughts and prayer go out to his family.
— Dustin Rhodes (@Goldust) April 18, 2018
ONLY 1 LEGEND BRUNO SAMARTINO. HE THE REAL OF THE REAL. MY HEART BREAK. HE TOUGHEST SHOOTER. MOST OVER LEGEND EVER. ONE DAY IN THE MSG WE BOTH BREAK 10 FOOTBALL PLAYERS BACK THEY TRIED TO MESS WITH HIM. FOREVER HE CALLED ME THE LEGEND. I LOVE HIM FOREVER. GOD BLESS YOU BRUNO pic.twitter.com/dHB5rg6t5O
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) April 18, 2018
Bruno Sammartino is a wrestling Legend
Honored to have had many conversations with him
When I was w/him I knew I was w/pure class & greatness
Celebrate his life watch 1of his matches today
I was humbled he even knew my name
I’m very sad pic.twitter.com/RfD1XIQYo9
— Tommy Dreamer (@THETOMMYDREAMER) April 18, 2018
Our hearts and prayers are with the family of Legend, Bruno Sammartino. He will be dearly missed. xo WGs pic.twitter.com/QzM1aYFHGW
— Dana Warrior (@DanaWarriorWWE) April 18, 2018
RIP Bruno. You set the standard of what we should all aspire to be.
— Samoa Joe (@SamoaJoe) April 18, 2018
Grazie di tutto il mio paisan. 🇮🇹
Thank you for everything my fellow Italian 🇺🇸
— Bubba Ray Dudley (@bullyray5150) April 18, 2018
— Booker T. Huffman (@BookerT5x) April 18, 2018
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on Youtube!