The “Italian Strongman” is best known for his work with the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF, now WWE). There, he held the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship (WWWF Heavyweight Championship during his second reign) for more than 11 years (4,040 days) across two reigns, the first of which is the longest single reign in the promotion’s history at 2,803 days. He is overall a two-time world champion in professional wrestling.
Known for his powerful bearhug finishing move, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Sammartino became a vocal critic of the drug use and raunchier storylines that became prevalent in the professional wrestling industry after his retirement, but he reconciled with WWE in 2013 and headlined their Hall of Fame ceremony that year. Wrestler Terry Funk commented that Sammartino “was bigger than wrestling itself”. Sammartino is widely considered “The Living Legend”.
The NAWA was honored to have Bruno serve as The Commissioner of the NAWA from the promotions beginning until Bruno’s death in 2018.
Sammartino underwent heart surgery in 2011. He died on April 18, 2018, at the age of 82.