PITTSBURGH – Today, during a ceremony at the County Courthouse, May 17, 2013 was declared “Bruno Sammartino Day” in Allegheny County by County Executive Fitzgerald, Council President Martoni and Council Member DeFazio. The date also marks the 50th anniversary of Bruno Sammartino’s first World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) Championship title.
“It is a great privilege to honor Bruno Sammartino today. He has been an inspiration to so many people in our region and across the world who have looked up to him,” said County Executive Fitzgerald. “We are truly blessed that he calls Allegheny County home. This is just one small way that we can recognize the contributions that he has made to our county as wrestling’s ‘Living Legend.’”
Mr. Sammartino made his professional wrestling debut in Pittsburgh on December 17, 1959, pinning his opponent in 19 seconds. He became part of a local TV wrestling program called Studio Wrestling, broadcast on WIIC-TV Channel 11, which was hosted by Pittsburgh personality “Chilly Billy” Bill Cardille. He later bought the Pittsburgh-based Spectator Sports which promoted wrestling in the Tri-State area of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The promotion was a stopping point for national stars such as Gorilla Monsoon, The Crusher, Bill Watts, George Steele, and Bobo Brazil. It also featured local talent like Jumping Johnny DeFazio, Frank “Carnegie Cop” Holtz, Hurricane Hunt, Tony “The Battman” Marino, John L. Sullivan and the Masked Marvel.
“I’ve had the privilege of knowing Bruno Sammartino for many years, both professionally and personally. For all of these years, he also always stood by his beliefs and principals and doesn’t hesitate to speak out about when he disagrees with someone or something,” said Council President Martoni. “That stance made a huge difference in the world of professional wrestling, which was finally recognized earlier this year when he was inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Fame.”
Mr. Sammartino has been adored by fans in part for his humble demeanor and his opposition to the use of performance enhancing drugs. The creation of the WWE Talent Wellness Program includes drug testing of wrestlers, as well as many other health examinations that assist in legitimizing the sport. Mr. Sammartino’s personal physician, Dr. Joseph Maroon, assisted in the creation of the program and serves as the WWE’s Medical Director.
“There is no one in wrestling more deserving than Bruno Sammartino of being given the title of hero,” asserted Council Member DeFazio. “Bruno was at the top of the organization, and has always been hard working and honest. I am proud to call him my friend and proud to honor him in this way.”
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