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Throw Back Thursday: Bruno ... the Greatest Champ ever!

Posted on May 21, 2020 at 10:30 AM

Good Morning Ginchers,

Time once again for Throw Back Thursday!  Let's go back to the early days of Studio Wrestling.  If you were from Pittsburgh it was every Saturday at 6:00 PM on channel 11, WIIC.  We watched it every week but especially when the Greatest Heavy Weight Champion Ever was featured ... Bruno Leopold Francesco Sammartino, the Living Legend!  Bruno was born in Pizzoferrato, Italy and immigrated with his family to Pittsburgh, Pa when he was only four.  Bruno Sammartino reigned for 11 years as the WWF World Heavy Weight Champion in two reigns.  Dubbed the "Italian Strongman", the "Strongest Man in the World" and the "Living Legend" and was said to be "Bigger than Wrestling Itself".  I had the honor of being a friend of Bruno Sammartino and actually did several editions of "Night Talk Pittsburgh", a TV show here in the 'Burgh with John McIntire as the host.  The program was called "Macho Men of Pittsburgh".  There was the Honorble Judge Bob Dzvonic (spelling?) representing Politics, the Legend Bruno Sammartino representing Sports and yours truly, Johnny Angel, representing music entertainment.  The public would call in and ask questions of the panel and we would give our perspectives on the questions.  I can honestly say, that I have never met a more honest, humbled and respectful man in my life than Brumo Sammartino.  For a man that was so agressive and violent in the ring he was equally compassionate and loving in person.  I would sit and talk to Bruno about family, respect, tradition, values and family meals ... all along I was flashing back to watching him on studio wrestling.  I could stil hear Chilly Billy Cardille talking about the King of Wrestling and Ringside Rosie cheering him on.  Studio wrestling was filmed at the Channel 11 studios on Television Hill right there in the studio.  A few rows of chairs around the ring and  cameras with long chords connecting them to Pittsburgh!  As a young man I was blessed to meet so many PITTSBURGH ICON sports figures and actually become friends with these figures that were bigger than life ... Bill Mazeroski, Franco Harris, Steve Blass, Jack Lambert, Elroy Face and the list goes on however, there was something about meeting and spending time with Bruno Sammartino that stays fixed in my brain.  Was it the fact that he was the greatest wrestling champ ever?  That could be, but in my heart I know that it was about his heart and his family values.  Bruno Sammartino ... the Greatest Champ Ever!  Till tomorrow stay safe, stay healthy, help a neighbor when you can ... and, God Bless!

Johnny


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