The professional wrestling world is still in shock as one of the biggest stars in the history of the sport, two-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino, passed away yesterday (April 18) peacefully surrounded by his wife and children, following health issues. Bruno Sammartino was 82 years old.
— WWE (@WWE) April 18, 2018
According to WWE, after setting a bench-pressing world record in 1959 at 565 pounds, Sammartino gained the attention of Vincent J. McMahon, who signed the youngster to his professional wrestling promotion.
Nicknamed “The Italian Stallion” and “The Living Legend”, the 5-foot-10, 265-pound wrestler rose to prominence in the 1960s and ’70s, when he held the then-WWF (now WWE) World Heavyweight Championship twice over a 10-year period.
For his efforts, Bruno Sammartino was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013 with a heartfelt introductory speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Bruno Mars has also paid his respects to the fallen wrestler via social media today. Mars got his nickname Bruno from his father after the legendary wrestler.
Sending love and prayers to Bruno Sammartino’s family. He was such a gentleman when I met him & really meant a lot to my father & I. RIP👑
— Bruno Mars (@BrunoMars) April 19, 2018
Mars was excited last August when he met Sammartino backstage at a Pittsburgh stop on his 24K Magic World Tour.
Sammartino spoke very highly Mars, stating he was “the most humble, nicest guy. He couldn’t have been more respectful” and was “extremely impressed.”
The Source sends our deepest condolences to the family of Bruno Sammartino.