Former WWE champion Bruno Sammartino has died aged 82, after battling various health issues over the last few months.
WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino has died aged 82.
The Italian star - who once held the WWE Championship for nearly eight years, which is the longest reign of all time - died peacefully after battling various health issues over the last few months.
Sanmmartino - who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013 - had his wife Carol Sammartino and their two children by his side at the time of his death.
Sanmmartino is widely regarded as a legend of the industry, having defeated Buddy Rogers in 1963 to become the second-ever WWE Champion and selling out Madison Square Garden in New York City an incredible 187 times.
Tributes to the wrestling star have already started pouring in, with Triple H describing Sanmmartino as a ''true icon'' and admitting to being devastated by his passing.
He wrote on the micro-blogging website: ''Devastated to hear the passing of a true icon, legend, great, honest and wonderful man...
''A true friend...and one of the toughest people I've ever met.
''My thoughts are with his entire family. #RIPBrunoSammartino
Fellow WWE legend Hulk Hogan also paid tribute to the Italian, thanking him for his contribution to the sport.
The Hulkster wrote: ''RIP Bruno,thank you for loving and living our business,only love HH (sic)''
Meanwhile, the WWE also hailed Sanmmartino's impact on the wrestling industry, describing the former champion - who was raised in the small Italian mountain town of Abruzzi - as the embodiment of the ''American dream''.
In a statement posted on the official WWE website, the company said: ''WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino passed away at age 82.
''The story of Bruno Sammartino is the story of the American dream.''
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