One of the most instrumental figures in the history of the wrestling industry, Bruno Sammartino, has sadly passed away at the age of 82.
According to PWInsider, the legendary WWE champion died this morning in Pittsburgh, PA, after recently being hospitalised.
Triple H was amongst the first within the company to express their public condolences, lauding Sammartino as a "true icon".
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
Sammartino's importance to the business simply cannot be understated. Vince McMahon Sr.'s budding WWWF was built around the Italian import, who held the company's top title for an astonishing 2,803 days. The real-life superhero sold out Madison Square Garden 187 times during his eight-year stint, helping lay the foundations for the North East territory to become first a national, and then a global juggernaut.
Bruno was born 6 October 1935 in Abruzzo, Italy, and his childhood was enough to rival any pro-wrestling storyline. Throughout the '40s, Sammartino's family was forced to hide from the Nazis as the war came to a close, before he eventually migrated to Pittsburgh to join his father. The new emigre spoke not a word of English on his arrival, and his sickly disposition made him a frequent target of abuse in his first years in the States. These experiences moulded the man; he took up weightlifting to bolster his physique, achieving so much success that he inevitably caught the eye of a wrestling promoter.
As an ethnic strongmen during his nascent spell in the business, Sammartino was a hero to thousands of Italian migrants in the country. As Vince Sr.'s definitive babyface, he was a hero to millions. When he finally dropped the WWF strap to Ivan Koloff at MSG in 1971, members of the crowd broke down in tears of utter disbelief at the fall of their idol.
Sammartino continued to wrestle until 1988, but became a forgotten figure within WWE, as a long-standing feud with Vince McMahon kept his legacy quiet on their programming until differences were finally resolved in 2013. He received a long overdue induction into the company's Hall of Fame, to go alongside the other four he'd previously been honoured by.
WhatCulture.com would like to send its heartfelt condolences to Bruno's family and friends at this time.
Benjamin was born in 1987, and is still not dead. He variously enjoys classical music, old-school adventure games (they're not dead), and walks on the beach (albeit short - asthma, you know).
He's currently trying to compile a comprehensive history of video game music, yet denies accusations that he purposefully targets niche audiences. He's often wrong about these things.