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     As soon as, whereas being interviewed, Bruno Sammartino described his mom as his largest inspiration. “She was my absolute hero,” was how Bruno described the girl who was compelled to flee to the mountains along with her three younger youngsters when the Nazis invaded her village through the second World Struggle.  For over a yr, Bruno, his mom and two siblings have been compelled to eat dandelions and snow whereas their small Italian village was occupied.  It isn’t exhausting to see how a lot Bruno admired his mom.  It is even simpler to see why Bruno Sammartino was a hero to many individuals, notably to Italian-americans. His greatness as an athlete was exceeded solely by his greatness as an individual.
     On April 18, 2018, Bruno Sammartino handed away on the age of 82.  Not solely was he was one the best wrestlers to ever enter the ring, he was broadly thought-about to be one of many strongest males of his period.  When he got here to America as a youngster,  he was actually a 90-Lb. weakling. It was after he started lifting weights that he developed into one if the largest and strongest males of all-time. His greatest lifts embrace a 565 Lb. Bench Press with a two second pause. Based on David Willoughby’s ebook, “The Tremendous Athletes,” Bruno was able to performing a Press ( whereas mendacity on the ground) of 545 Lbs. He additionally did a Navy Press of 410 Lbs., in addition to a strict Barbell Curl with 235 Lbs.  Based on Willoughby,  “Possibly, if Sammartino had not chosen to focus on wrestling, he would have develop into a champion performer within the three official Powerlifts.” David Willoughby was not given to exaggeration or expressions of hyperbole. Bruno was really highly effective, and was acknowledged as a lot for his nice power as for his stellar wrestling profession.
     As a wrestler, he was one of the widespread champions ever to grace the “squared circle.” He held the title longer than any man earlier than or after. He offered out Madison Sq. Backyard greater than another wrestler. After I broke the information of Bruno’s passing with former members Bruno’s Well being Membership, Chris Newins, one of many very first members to affix Bruno’s, made the assertion that if it wasn’t for Bruno, there would most likely be no WWE as we speak. “Bruno really saved the previous WWWF when it was tanking. As champion, he saved the corporate.” Whereas wrestling students ( if there may be such a factor) may debate that final assertion, there may be one factor of which I’m sure. There would have been no Bruno’s Well being Membership if not for Mr. Sammartino.
     Larry “Bruno” Licandro idolized Bruno Sammartino. He even adopted in Bruno’s footsteps and wrestled professionally for a short while within the late 1970s. When Larry opened his personal health club within the 1980s, it was solely becoming that it will be named for the “Dwelling Legend.” I skilled at Bruno’s Well being Membership from 1983 by 1988. I can safely say that the reminiscences of that health club will stick with me at all times.
     I’m additionally proud to say that I’ve a particular reminiscence of assembly Mr. Sammartino again in 2000.  That yr, the Affiliation of Olde-time Barbell and Strongmen (AOBS) honored Bruno for his contributions to the Iron Sport.  The road of individuals ready to satisfy Bruno wrapped across the room.  All people, and I imply everyone, wished to satisfy the Dwelling Legend. He was gracious to everybody, and posed for photos with nearly everyone. An actual gentleman. After I lastly obtained to satisfy him, I had requested him to signal a replica of his autobiography that I had introduced with me. After I talked about to him that the pen that I handed him was the identical one which John Grimek had used to signal my program a couple of years earlier than, he appeared genuinely honored. He undoubtedly had an appreciation for Iron Historical past as a result of he talked about that he was proud to be talked about in the identical breath because the the nice JCG.  Throughout his acceptance speech, Bruno talked about that he at all times liked lifting weights, and wished that he might have pursued it.  Sadly,  again then, as it’s as we speak, there was no cash in hoisting the metal. However that did not cease him from dedicating his life to constructing his physique, and making himself as sturdy as attainable. He was very appreciative of what lifting weights had achieved for him, and was very grateful for his legion of followers.
     In case you have the chance to get your fingers in a replica of his autobiography, I encourage you to learn it by to the tip. It undoubtedly is inspiring. There are two passages that stand out in my reminiscence.  Within the Foreword, Bruno summarizes how a lot he appreciates the life he was in a position to construct on this nation. “For me, it’s a privilege to be an American.”  That virtually says all of it. Afterward within the ebook, there are phrases that may resonate with everybody who helps this web site, and believes within the ideas of drug-free coaching. On web page 186, Bruno states: “I am proud to say that I by no means used or condoned the usage of steroids.”  Robust phrases from an ideal man.
RIP Bruno.