Wednesday, April 18, 2018
RIP Bruno Sammartino
Sad news today to hear Bruno Sammartino has passed on age 82. There is a strong Toronto connection with Bruno who was an important part of the Maple Leaf wrestling scene beginning in 1962.
We looked at his time here in the feature WWWF/WWF Title in Toronto from his debut in March 1962 through his title reigns He defended the title here 28 times between 1963 and 1976.
In June of 1962 Bruno got his first NWA Title shot vs Buddy Rogers. The trio of bouts the two had over the next 3 months cemented Bruno as a power to be in the wrestling world both here and in the Northeast where the promoters were looking at him in a new light.
In a 1962 article in the Star Frank Orr wrote '...the city's Italian populace has found a major hero in Bruno Sammartino and have been flocking to cheer their countryman. Bruno is a hero in the same mould as the great Rocca is to the Puerto Ricans in New York.' Frank Tunney answered 'The Television exposure has helped and we've had some great cards. Also the Italian people have been following Bruno in a big way.'
They sure were with an average of 14,000 coming out for his 3 bouts with Rogers. After the 3rd bout in Aug 1962 it was reported that 'the traffic out front (of MLG) was jammed before and after the bouts. Many fans came from out of town to see the fun, and they were not disappointed.' Fred Atkins added 'There is nothing wrong with pro wrestling that a couple of top-notch cards can't cure.'
Will pay tribute with a fine Roger Baker photo of he and Johnny Powers squaring off at MLG in 1965