WWE Hall of Fame wrestler Bruno Sammartino died Wednesday with his wife, Carol, and sons, Darryl and Dan by his side, KDKA-TV reports. "Bruno Sammartino proved that hard work can overcome even the most difficult of circumstances".
Current members of the active roster also paid tribute to Sammartino, with Natalya writing: "Growing up, my grandfather Stu Hart would ALWAYS talk about Bruno Sammartino and what an incredible wrestler he was". He was the longest reigning world champion in the company that would become WWE.
"Bruno Sammartino was one of the greatest ambassadors the city of Pittsburgh ever had". He and his mother hid in a mountain called Valla Rocca during the German occupation and eventually joined his immigrant father in Pittsburgh in 1950.
He held the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) championship, then known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) championship, for almost eight years - the longest reign of all time. Professional wrestling promoter Vincent J. McMahon helped propel Sammartino into a star in sports entertainment, but it was his victory over Buddy Rogers at Madison Square Garden in 1963 that won him the WWE Championship.
Below, 18 Sports Director Andy Malnoske had the opportunity to write a complete biography for the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame (PWHF) a few years ago on Sammartino.
WWE: Wrestling world mourns Sammartino's death
That world title reign lasted nearly eight years. The heated grudge match broke box-office records for wrestling events, and Bruno retired from the ring the following year.
The WWE and its entertainers and legends tweeted their thoughts on Sammartino.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, who inducted Sammartino into the Hall of Fame in 2013, said: "Bruno Sammartino was a legend".
KDKA reports Sammartino sold out Madison Square Garden 188 times as a headliner.
WWE extends its condolences to Sammartino's family, friends and fans.
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