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

#AmericanDream (sic)''

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.''