WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino has died at the age of 82.
The news was first revealed by Pittsburgh journalist Ron Cook, who described him as “one of Pittsburgh’s all-time great sportsmen and great people.”
Sad news. Bruno Sammartino has passed at 82. One of Pittsburgh’s all-time great sportsmen and great people. Rest In Peace, Bruno.
— Ron Cook (@RonCookPG) April 18, 2018
Sammartino’s wife Carol, and sons, Darryl and Dan were said to have been by his side when he passed away. He died peacefully after suffering from health issues for the past few months.
WWE and a string of wrestling legends have rushed to pay tribute to the icon. Triple H described him as a “true friend…and one of the toughest people I’ve ever met”, while Ted DiBiase called him an “icon amongst icons”.
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
Bruno was a true champion. He was known for his love of his family, this business, and our country.
— AJStyles.Org (@AJStylesOrg) 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
— NattieByNature (@NatbyNature) April 18, 2018
This photo is from the first mention of Bruno Sammartino I can find in our archives, from a 1958 story in the Pittsburgh Press titled "Pittsburgh Hercules." https://t.co/fHXkwYp0Xa pic.twitter.com/WTQsuiR8NK
— Alex Iniguez (@alexiniguez) April 18, 2018
Devastating news for the wrestling world. An Icon amongst Icon’s, Bruno Sammartino has passed away. RIP Bruno. My thoughts and prayers are with his family today.
— Ted DiBiase (@MDMTedDiBiase) April 18, 2018
Nothing today can happen without what he did back then. Rest in power and thank you Bruno Sammartino. pic.twitter.com/JEuHPUh3fJ
— Cody (@CodyRhodes) April 18, 2018
Sammartino held the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship title for over 11 years across just two separate reigns.
He was originally from Italy, after being born in Pizzoferrato, Abruzzo, in 1935, but moved to the United States and settled in Pittsburgh.
When he first got to the country he was unable to speak any English. He is generally regarded as one of the best professional wrestlers of all time, being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.
WWE said in a tribute article that his story “is the story of the American dream”.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.