The NYT obit:
Bruno Sammartino, Durable Champ in WWE Hall of Fame, Dies at 82
Unlike many heavies on the pro wrestling circuits, he was a soft-spoken, gentlemanly connoisseur of grand opera, especially Verdi. And for one who had bench-pressed 565 pounds as an amateur, he was relatively small: under 6 feet tall and a trim 260 or 270 pounds, with bulging pectorals and biceps and a big head. He looked tiny beside giant rivals like Haystacks Calhoun, who topped 600 pounds.
In February 1961, Sammartino body-slammed Chick Garibaldi to the canvas at Sunnyside Gardens in Queens. Garibaldi did not get up. The referee stopped the match and determined that Garibaldi was dead. A medical examiner later said he had suffered a heart attack. Sammartino was stricken with remorse for months.
Sammartino himself almost died, of a broken neck, when Stan Hansen, in a match in New York in 1976, dropped him on his head. Sammartino spent weeks in a hospital.
Sammartino did not dispute that professional wrestling matches were fixed. But he bristled at suggestions that he had ever taken a fall and said his injuries were proofs of his honesty.
“I would be a fool to tell you that there was no fixing,” he told The Washington Post in 1980 as his career wound down. “You ask if wrestling is for real? Well, I think my own body answers that question. I have broken more bones than any of the others — my neck, my collarbone, both arms, wrists, knuckles, all of my ribs, my back. A hairline fracture of the kneecap. My jaw has been wired and rewired. It’s incredible to think people would fake that.”
82 is an incredible innings for a pro wrestler