Sammartino, who was born in Italy, came to the United States in 1950. He began his record title reign after beating Buddy Rogers at Madison Square Garden in 1963.
He held the world wrestling title for what was an incredible eight years, a record which will likely never be broken.
As recalled by the Sporting News, Bruno Sammartino left the then-WWF on a sour note, as he was upset with the new focus on "sports entertainment", the drug use that was then rampant in the company, and the increasing prevalence of edgy, controversial storylines.
I didn't even know that Sammartino was in poor health, so this is a shock to me. He was 82 years old.
BC-WRE-Obit-Sammartino, 1st Ld-Writethru, 889Professional wrestling great Bruno Sammartino dies at 82AP Photo PAGRE201, PAGRE202, NY158, NY159Eds: Updates. That would give Sammartino the longest combined reign as WWE Champion, holding the title for an astonishing 4,040 days.
Following his retirement from the sport in 1981, Sammartino would later serve as a commentator. Today he is better known as Bruno Mars. "WWE extends its condolences to Sammartino's family, friends and fans", the company wrote via their website.
"Devastated to hear the passing of a true icon, legend, honest and wonderful man".
As word of his death spread, WWE Superstars past and present took to social media to pay their respects to the legend.
Our thoughts are with his family and fans during this painful time. He was the most vibrant and spirited person I met that week, and he shared with me invaluable wisdom about the business and life as a whole.