Bruno Sammartino, once the World Wide Wrestling Federation’s longest-reining champion, died at 82.
The WWE, which transitioned from the WWWF, announced the news Wednesday morning over social media.
Sammartino, known as “The Italian Superman” in his wrestling heyday, held the WWWF title for eight consecutive years — beating Buddy Rogers in 1963 and not relinquishing the title until 1971 when he lost to Ivan Koloff. He went on to hold the world title again from 1973 to 1976.
Sammartino, also a renowned weightlifter, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013, and was introduced by Arnold Schwarzenegger at Madison Square Garden — where he helped sell out more than 180 wrestling shows as the headliner.
FTW:WWE stars pay tribute to Sammartino
“Everything that we have today in the business, Bruno was a cornerstone of that foundation,” said WWE executive Paul “Triple H” Levesque, at the time of Sammartino’s induction, via ESPN.