Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bruno Sammartino from Abruzzi

Bruno Leopoldo Francesco Sammartino was one of the most popular wrestlers of the 1960's and 70's. Sammartino held the WWWF (now WWE) championship for over 11 years during the course of his two reigns.
Sammartino relied on a mat-oriented style, but he was also a great brawler. He was very charismatic and was a huge favorite in the New York area. His "gimmick" was just himself, no frills, just Bruno.
Sammartino has been very critical of Vince McMahon, the WWE and wrestling in general. Despite this stance, he's one of those guys who still commands respect.
I first met Sammartino in the hallway at the hotel hosting a wrestlers reunion. We talked for a bit and I felt like I had just talked to one of the older Italian guys in the neighborhood of my youth. I basically walked in with him and we went to his area, where we talked a bit more.
Like I have written before about today's fans, most of the crowd was more interested in younger stars. Admittedly, Sammartino's own actions have pushed him away from the wrestling scene, but a man like this should still hold a place of honor on the wrestling scene. The man was wrestling's biggest draw for nearly 20 years. He almost was wrestling.
We discussed Italian food and Abruzzi (his birth place and that of my ancestors, too) and then I thanked him for his time. He grabbed my hand strongly and thanked me. The man was pure class.

Bruno Sammartino and me in St. Pete, FL-January 2005.


J\/\/ said...

Huge favorite in the New York area, a GOD here in Pittsburgh. Even today, among those 45+ you'll hear him mentioned among Clemente and Lemieux.

Great write-up and amazing man.

kc said...

now that is cool.

Johngy said...

Thanks for your comments!

It's such a shame that Bruno and Vince can't come to some sort of truce. Bruno deserves to be in wrestling and wrestling would be better with him.

Anonymous said...

Hey Johngy,
Love the Bruno post. While he never was a big part in Chicago I used to read about him in the wrestling magazines and counted him as one of my favorite wresters.