WWE Hall of Famer and professional wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino passed away today at age 82.
Sammartino, who has been in poor health over the past few months, died with his wife and two children by his side according to Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA-TV. He is survived by wife Carol and three sons, David, Danny, and Darryl. He lived in Ross Township, Pennsylvania for most of his life after he moved from Italy in 1950.
The Italian-born former champion made his professional wrestling debut in 1959 and after a rocky relationship with Vince McMahon Sr., he returned to WWWF in 1963, winning the WWWF title from Buddy Rodgers in 48 seconds. He lost it to Ivan Koloff at Madison Square Garden in 1971 before he regained it in 1973 from Stan Stasiak. Sammartino dropped the belt three yers later to Superstar Billy Graham and his two title reigns lasted a total of 4,040 days, or 11 years, 3 weeks, 3 days.
After retiring from wrestling in 1981, Sammartino returned to the WWF for four years from 1984 to 1988 but he left as a critic of the company and Vince McMahon in particular due to the company’s stance on steroids and drugs. He remained estranged from the company for many years until 2013, when he finally agreed to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. His close friend Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted him and then two years later Sammartino returned to induct Larry Zbyszko.