Sammartino: Wrestling's Living Legend
Sammartino official website
Sammartino WWE website
Sammartino announced as WWE Hall of Fame 2013 inductee
(WWE official website)
Sammartino and Triple H comment on WWE 2013 Hall of
Fame induction - Feb 2013
Sammartino and WWE confirms his Hall of Fame induction
still attempting to secure Bruno for Hall of Fame
looking to produce Bruno Sammartino movie or documentary
in 2012 - 2013
Sammartino and Triple H comment on WWE 2013 Hall of
Man Int and Wrestling
News Media continue to bring Australian and international
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afternoon, WWE's website released comments from Bruno
Sammartino and Triple H on how Bruno's 2013 WWE Hall
of Fame induction was finally agreed upon.
H contacted me and started telling me all the things
that had changed and everything that was going on
with WWE," Bruno said. "I started watching
it after talking to him and when I saw it, I was very,
said, "I love the history of this business. Without
the history, there is no tomorrow. To look back on
the history of WWE, one of the most important figures
in the long story of where this all came from wasn't
recognized. And that was Bruno."
pro wrestling fans know that Bruno Sammartino is to
professional wrestling what Babe Ruth is to baseball.
legendary pro wrestling icon is the longest reigning
WWE (then-WWF) champion of all time, with two title
reigns spanning an eye-popping 11-plus years. And
his legacy of headlining Madison Square Garden more
than 200 times is what turned the Italian-born grappler
into a worldwide sensation.
its only fitting that Sammartino will be the
main attraction at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony on
April 6 at MSG.
Sammartino is being named to the WWE's Hall after
decades of spirited feuding with WWE top brass Vince
inducted into the Hall of Fame at Madison Square Gardens
is the biggest thing in my life, Sammartino
said in an exclusive interview for ESPN Playbook.
Anytime that people feel that you accomplished
enough to enter into a Hall of Fame, of course this
is a tremendous, tremendous thrill for me. I had a
lot of my success due to appearing at the Garden.
I wrestled there over 200 times, its where I
won the title, and its where I picked up 630-plus
pounds of Haystacks Calhoun.
while Sammartino had turned down the WWEs previous
offers of inducting him into its Hall of Fame due
to a well-documented feud with the wrestling organizations
CEO and chairman Vince McMahon over a wide range of
issues -- from Sammartino not liking the vulgar direction
the product took during the Attitude Era to Sammartinos
criticism of drug abuse by members of the roster back
in the '80s - it was WWE executive Paul Levesque (aka
Triple H) who stepped in and finally changed the legends
talking to Paul Levesque, I made it clear, Ive
had issues with WWE and wrestling in general, because
there were other organizations, Sammartino said.
I didnt like the direction they had taken.
It was bothersome to me. Im an old-school guy.
I spent 25 years in this business. But after talking
to Paul, and him explaining to me the changes theyve
made in their program, and how theyve hired
a doctor like Dr. Maroon, who is a world-renowned
neurosurgeon, who also operated on me, and now that
he has been put in charge of the companys wellness
program and their drug testing, that impressed me.
I know what kind of a man he is, and he is a giant
in that field, so I take my hat off to WWE because
they took such huge steps to make things better for
the wrestlers themselves and making sure they are
healthy to perform. That was very, very important.
as Paul explained to me, WWE made a lot of other changes.
Theres no more profanity, theres no vulgarity
in the current product, and that stuff had bothered
me as well. When Paul first spoke to me and told me
all the changes, I started watching it again, and
I was very convinced that they are doing amazing things.
I see the wrestlers and all the changes they made.
Theres no profanity, theres no vulgarity,
and its a family-friendly program. Thats
what it used to be, and thats a huge role in
the whole factor.
finally inking the deal with Sammartino, WWE sees
this as an opportunity to not only celebrate everything
he has done for the business but also add legitimacy
to its Hall of Fame.
a legitimacy standpoint, its important for us
to get Bruno in, Levesque said. Hes
one of the biggest names there has ever been in the
business. So for us to not have him in there, for
the legitimacy of the whole thing, it was a major
issue. For me, the more important thing was that nobody
deserves to be recognized for being a big star and
paving the way for the stars of today more than Bruno.
Everything that we have today in the business, Bruno
was a cornerstone of that foundation. He truly is
a living legend.
take my hat off to WWE because they took such huge
steps to make things better for the wrestlers themselves
and making sure they are healthy to perform. That
was very, very important" Sammartino said.
we started getting into Hall of Fame season, its
almost like this storyline wrote itself. To have Bruno
Sammartino brought into the Hall of Fame in Madison
Square Garden, a building he sold out more than anybody
in the world, thats a remarkable achievement.
It was an opportunity to honor Bruno, but it was also
an opportunity for our fans.
has been this bad blood between Bruno and the WWE
for years, and were not trying to hide any of
it, but I just felt like we are at a point where a
lot of it can be resolved. Our wellness program and
the way our programming is now, a lot of people are
unaware of it, so I felt like if I could get Bruno
on the phone and I could run down a list of those
things that he didnt like, I could show him
how we changed. Were PG, family-friendly entertainment
with a wellness program that is truly based on the
wellness of our performers. We want them to be healthy
and live long, productive lives. So I just felt that
if Bruno knew about those things, he might feel differently,
and eventually, thats what came to be.
Bruno has accepted the WWEs offer to make an
appearance at the Hall of Fame, he still hasnt
had the chance to speak to Vince McMahon, as Levesque
is organizing a sit-down so the two can resolve any
lingering issues face-to-face.
Vince knew about this right from the get-go, and when
I said I wanted to reach out to Bruno, Vince was probably
thinking, Well, good luck with that,
Levesque said. So Bruno and I established this
relationship, and as we came to an understanding on
all of this, Vince asked me, Hey, do you think
I should call Bruno? Id like to talk to him.
At the same time, Bruno said, Do you think I
should have a conversation with Vince? And I
said no to both of them. I didnt think it was
right to do over the phone. They had bad blood for
a long time, and weve all kind of buried the
hatchet here, and its a new beginning and a
fresh start and everybody is in a great place with
this. But going back to what Bruno said about being
old-school, I think we should all get in the same
room together and the two of them should look each
other in the eyes and shake hands. This should be
in person. I dont think its right to do
over the phone. They both agreed to do that, and while
it hasnt happened yet, Hall of Fame is probably
where well make that happen. Vince and Bruno
will see each other for the first time in years and
officially, in person, look each other in the eyes
and bury that hatchet.
for trying to keep the announcement a secret, its
not Mission Impossible or anything like
that, Levesque says, laughing. But to
me, Bruno getting into the Hall of Fame in Madison
Square Garden is the biggest induction weve
ever done, and rightfully so. He deserves that. So
to just have it leak out there, that wouldve
been wrong. This is a huge moment in time, and a massive
moment for our fans, for Bruno and for WWE. This is
the history of our business. Without Bruno Sammartino,
we arent where we are today.
Media Man agency would like to thank all parties for
helping make the Bruno Sammartino induction possible.
Very well done to Triple H and Sammartino for talking
through the issues that existed, and resolving them.
fans, both hardcores and casual fans are rejoicing,
and this massive news will make this years WWE Hall
of Fame off the charts and WrestleMania week will
be like nothing seen ever before.
history is now almost complete. Join with us... Bruno,
Bruno Bruno... Triple H, Triple H, Triple H.
a great time to be a "sports entertainment"
fan, which many of still prefer to call it on its
foundation "professional wrestling".
PENNSYLVANIA - February 4th, 2013
BRUNO SAMMARTINO TO ENTER WWE HALL OF FAME AT A PERFECT
TIME AND PLACE
Reigning Champ Back After Twenty-Five Year Break From
fifty years ago, Bruno Sammartino became the WWWF
Champion for then promoter Vincent McMahon Sr. Thereafter,
in two separate stints covering more than 11 years,
Bruno held the coveted Championship Belt for what
is now the WWE. Today, the WWE announced that Bruno
Sammartino will be inducted into in the WWE Hall of
Fame at a ceremony on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at Madison
a quarter of a century ago, Mr. Sammartino disassociated
with WWE over the direction it was taking as "sports
entertainment" instead of an arena-based professional
wrestling product. The vocal former Champ also spoke
out on steroid use in professional wrestling by appearing
on many high profile shows like The Geraldo Rivera
Show, The Donahue Show and The Larry King Show.
years, Sammartino rejected the Hall of Fame invitation
for the many publicized reasons. However, since that
time, through relationships with both Dr. Joseph Maroon
and Paul Levesque, Bruno has learned that WWE has
evolved and is impressed with WWEs Talent Wellness
Program and its family-friendly content.
2009, the WWE hired world-renowned Neurosurgeon Joseph
Maroon as Medical Director, to head their Talent Wellness
Program. Maroon additionally, hand-picked a team of
Concussion, Orthopedic, Cardiology and Internal Medicine
doctors from UPMC in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, from
the hometown healthcare system that Sammartino is
a patient of. Unbeknownst to the WWE at the time,
Dr. Maroon had previously successfully performed an
extensive invasive surgical procedure on Bruno to
relieve extensive spinal cord compression that had
left the Champ immobilized and unable to walk. After
the surgery and without the aid of any pain medications,
Bruno devised his own physical rehabilitation program
and regained the ability to walk seven miles daily.
to say, Bruno became a fan of Dr. Maroons and
even agreed to be part of a book authored by Dr. Maroon
titled "The Longevity Factor". Bruno followed
the famous surgeons wellness advice provided
in the book, and began to take fish oil on a daily
basis. Knowing the effects of taking hundreds of hits
to the head (many with metal chairs), Bruno was further
impressed by Dr. Maroons co-invention of the
worldwide baseline IMPACT concussion testing, which
was developed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Dr.
Maroon serves as a concussion specialist to the NFL
and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
was not hard for the WWE to establish credibility
thereafter with Bruno when they began taking major
steps to test its talent for concussions, as well
as use of performance-enhancing drugs, disease, heart
problems, and overall wellness. Bruno was contacted
numerous times by Triple H, but he still declined
to discuss the Hall of Fame. Bruno ultimately conceded
because Killer Kowalski (Brunos most long time respected
opponet) trained Triple H, which enabled Bruno and
Triple H to develop their own old school
final factor that convinced Sammartino that the time
was right to enter the WWE Hall of Fame was when his
fans all over the world overload Sammartino with letters
asking him to reconsider for the fans sake.
The 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is being
held in New Yorks Madison Square Garden, where
Bruno appeared an unprecedented 211 times, picked-up
the 625-pound wrestler, Haystacks Calhoun, and won
the title on May 17, 1963, nearly 50 years ago.
walked 6 miles this morning after eating a bowl of
oatmeal. He has never used steroids, performance enhancement
drugs, HGT injections or transfusions. With a big
smile on his face, Bruno said "my mother will
be proud that I will not need to have Lance Armstrong
or Hulk Hogan help with my speech. Good conquers evil
- it just takes a lifetime to see the final score.
remains the childhood hero of many world leaders,
movie and sporting superstars and a whole lot of people
who are just inspired by seeing a weakling become
a physical success and role model. The Champ was bullied
as a kid, but later in life beat adversity, sickness,
war, Japanese Giants, a bear, an orangutan, all challengers
and all evil, all due to a mothers love.
a documentary on Brunos personal life is being
bid on by distributors, and a feature film is being
evaluated by a major studio. A life-sized statue of
the Champ is planned for 2013 in Pittsburgh PA.
Sammartino, "The Living Legend" to Enter
WWE Hall of Fame
4, 2013 STAMFORD, Conn., February 4, 2013 WWE
(NYSE:WWE) announced today that Bruno Sammartino will
be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at a ceremony
on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at Madison Square Garden.
nicknamed The Living Legend, is a two-time
WWE Champion and the longest reigning WWE Champion
in history, holding the title for a combined 11 years.
His first title reign began on May 17, 1963, where
he defeated Nature Boy Buddy Rogers at
Madison Square Garden. After losing the Championship
in 1971, he regained the title on December 10, 1973,
defeating Stan Stasiak at Madison Square Garden, holding
the Championship until April 30, 1977. When he retired
from the ring, Sammartino became a color commentator
for WWEs syndicated Superstars program and stepped
back into the ring on special occasions. After his
departure in 1988, Sammartino was openly critical
of WWE, and for many years declined the offer to be
inducted into WWEs Hall of Fame, citing concerns
with WWEs content and culture.
my fans around the world, I am pleased to be joining
the WWE Hall of Fame, especially at Madison Square
Garden, said Bruno Sammartino.
sold out more than 200 shows at Madison Square Garden
and being the longest reigning WWE champion in history,
Bruno Sammartino is truly The Living Legend,
said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman and CEO. This
is an extraordinary and historic moment to have Bruno
take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.
for the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony are
currently available through all Ticketmaster outlets,
www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
All tickets are subject to service charges and facility
fees. For more information on Bruno Sammartino, please
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Hall Of Fame Discussions Begin, Would Bruno Sammartino
Hall of Fame discussions have started. According to
a source, Bruno Sammartino remains at the top of the
list. Others that key officials have discussed include
Mick Foley, Triple H, The Freebirds, Regis Philbin
(in the celebrity wing), Bob Backlund, Larry Zbyszko,
Sid Vicious, Earthquake John Tenta and Paul Heyman.
The feeling is the timing isn't right for Heyman,
since he is penciled in to be a major part of one
of the marquee WrestleMania 29 matches and as a heel,
it would create an awkward atmosphere.
McMahon has not commented on the suggested entries,
but should be deciding who is going in within the
next several weeks.
to a source close to Bruno, he has not closed the
door to a possible induction. He apparently would
agree to be inducted ONLY if the money is right, which
be believes is about respect and to rectify "past
financial injustices." Bruno feels that WWE has
not been fair with him in the past with royalties
related to the marketing of his merchandise and action
figures, and that the situation must be addressed
before he would consider being inducted.
is also adamant that any deal that he makes to enter
the WWE Hall of Fame is made independent of any financing
or distribution deal for the potential theatrical
film to be made of his life. He would like for that
movie to be made, but is financially "very comfortable"
and would not be heartbroken if it is not.
is said to be open to talking to Triple H at any time,
and has always been open to take his calls. The source
also noted that Bruno has never told Triple H not
to call him and never will.
place: New York's famed Madison Square Garden. The
time: May 17, 1963. He wore the world's heavyweight
championship belt for the first time in his life,
four years after turning into a professional wrestler.
Since then he had held that title for fourteen years,
undefeated except on one occasion in 1971. He was
a consummate athlete, and he commanded respect from
friend and foe alike. He held a wrestling attendance
record in Australia for selling out twenty-one consecutive
nights and he once drew in an estimated crowd of 40,000
fans in a bull ring in Caracas, Venezuela. It's no
surprise that Bruno Sammartino is truly known as wrestling's
was born in Abruzzi, Italy and immigrated here to
the United States at age 15. His lifelong dream since
age 8 was to become a wrestler. He idolized a Greco-Roman
wrestler named Batisti who represented Italy in the
Olympics in the 30's. He loved amateur wrestling,
but he said it's not really a spectator sport because
it didn't have any thrills or surprises. In pro wrestling,
you have to add a lot of stuff to make it exciting.
While going to high school during the day, Bruno worked
out constantly at a local gym in Pittsburgh where
first job while living here in America was as a construction
worker and during the evening he wrestled at various
arenas. He finally turned pro in 1959. Then on May
17, 1963, Bruno defeated Nature Boy Buddy Rogers to
capture the WWWF Heavyweight Wrestling Championship
and from that night on he successfully defended his
title with such enthusiasm and tenacity that no other
wrestler could ever hope to defeat him.
is, until he met "The Russian Bear" Ivan
Koloff. Koloff became the new heavyweight champion
by defeating Sammartino on January 18, 1971 in Madison
Square Garden. It was a night of humiliation for Bruno
and a night of victory for Koloff who boasted and
bragged about how he became the only man to ever defeat
Sammartino, and that Bruno was no living legend.
from that night emerged a devastating feud that would
become historic in the annals of professional wrestling.
Koloff subsequently lost the title to Pedro Morales
at Madison Square Garden a month later on February
8, and Morales held the belt for two years, then lost
it to Stan "The Man" Stasiak. Stasiak held
the title for a mere nine days before losing to Sammartino
on December 10,1973. The living legend then became
the first two-time WWWF champion.
his entire career, Bruno has met and fought challenger
after challenger and emerged victorious in the WWWF.
Most of his matches have been grueling and sometimes
have ended in controversy. But no matter the outcome,
Bruno has defended his title with such tenacity that
he truly lives up to being called the "living
had also introduced the fans to two protégés
that he had trained: Larry Zbyzsko and Spiros Arion.
Zbyszko was also from Pittsburgh and became an almost
identical wrestler to Sammartino. He was very successful
and talented during his WWWF tenure, and even won
the tag team championship along with Tony Garea by
defeating the Yukon Lumberjacks. But he always thought
he was in the shadow of Sammartino, and decided he
didn't need to follow Bruno any longer, resulting
in a bitter rivalry. This teacher vs. student feud
ultimately ended before an excited crowd at New York's
Shea Stadium when Bruno defeated Zbyszko in a steel
Aaron was another friend who became one of Bruno's
bitter enemies. Spiros was born in Athens, Greece
and had been wrestling since he was a teenager. He
was a fan favorite and had also become a very good
technical, scientific wrestler during his time in
the WWWF. Spiros became friends and eventually a tag
team partner with Bruno. During their brief partnership
they were very successful as a tag team, but it wasn't
about to last. Aaron had his mind tainted by Freddie
Blassie, who somehow convinced Spiros that Bruno was
jealous of him and that he was not to be trusted.
The confused athlete would eventually dump Sammartino
as his tag team partner. After an incident which involved
Bruno, Spiros and Chief Jay Strongbow, Spiros sided
with Blassie and viciously turned on Bruno. However,
the two unsuccessfully tried to wrestle the title
from the living legend.
after opponent, feud after feud, no one could take
the title from the waist of Sammartino. Wrestlers
from Ivan Koloff , The Executioners, Cowboy Bob Duncum,
to Nikolai Volkoff, The Valiant Brothers, Waldo Von
Erich & Buggsy McGraw fought fierce battles but
in the end Sammartino emerged victorious.
it happened, in Philadelphia on May 1,1977. Bruno
Sammartino has been defeated and lost the heavyweight
championship to Superstar Billy Graham. The reign
of wrestling's living legend was over. Bruno would
never again regain the championship he so proudly
defended for 14 years.
his career in the WWWF, in every championship bout
that Bruno fought in at Madison Square Garden it was
to record crowds. Bruno's claim to fame was that during
his career he had never lost a steel cage match. Bruno
also became the only wrestler in WWWF history to ever
wrestle in Shea Stadium....twice. Once in a rematch
between the master of The Lariat, Stan Hansen and
in a steel cage match against his former pupil Larry
had survived against every hold & maneuver his
opponents used on him: "The Lariat", "The
Heart-Punch", "The Claw", "The
Axe", and "The Swinging Neckbreaker",
every kind of match from a "Texas Death"
& "Russian Chain" to even a "Sicilian
Stretcher" match and he still held onto the title.
Managers like The Grand Wizard, Fred Blassie and Captain
Louis Albano continuously dogged the trail of Sammartino
plotting his defeat in their quest for the gold.
Stasiak, George "The Animal" Steele, Bruiser
Brody, Tor Kamata, Ernie Ladd, Killer Kowalski, and
Ken Patera all faced the mettle and wrath of Bruno
and realized the he would never go down in defeat
and that he had more heart and determination than
any wrestler they would ever face. There will never
be another wrestler like Sammartino, he honored and
cherished being world champion than any wrestler wrestling
today. He truly will forever be known as wrestling
true living legend.
Legends: Bruno Sammartino profile
Museum: Bruno Sammartino - Photos & Bio
Bruno Sammartino profile