The International Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame (IPWHF) is home to many wrestling artifacts and memorabilia from all-time greats. But their latest relic is among the most prized objects from maybe the greatest pro wrestler ever.
Wrestling Inc's Andy Malnoske talked with IPWHF president Seth Turner and wrestling historian Bill Apter about this latest collectible on The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast.
"As president of the International Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, I'm pleased to announce that I, Seth Turner, recently obtained ownership of Bruno Sammartino's original 1965-71 WWWF World Championship Title," proclaimed Turner.
"Look at that. This, of course, is a caricature of what this looked like on Bruno Sammartino," said Apter. "When you talk about something magnificent, what the IPWHF has got now, this is what you call magnificent."
The IPWHF always takes great care of every possession it obtains and Turner ensured the same will happen with Sammartino's belt.
"We respect, we honor, we appreciate the history. We know what a gentleman he was. He was the champion of all champions – the legendary Bruno Sammartino. This title will be maintained with the highest standard forevermore," stated Turner.
Sammartino's first title reign lasted a record 2,803 days and spanned nearly eight years. But he also made an impact outside of the ring as Apter attests.
"Back in the day during Bruno's reign, there was no entrance music or explosions. He was the hard-working man and he was a gentleman to all his fans. He would stand there for hours and sign autographs. You never heard anything bad about Bruno Sammartino. He was the consummate gentleman and the consummate professional when in the ring," stated Apter.
"You always knew that when you were going to see a match with this guy that you were going to see someone give more than 100 percent. Even through bodily injuries that he wrestled through many times, there was no one who competed like Sammartino."
The WWWF/WWF was largely a northeast promotion during Sammartino's reign and he essentially owned that entire region. Times have changed and the promotion has become global, so Apter was asked if we'll ever see another run like Sammartino's.
"I don't think so; it's a different business now. It's still for wrestling but it's a lot entertainment-based. Back then it was more pure wrestling. I don't think the longevity of a title reign is going to equal someone like a Bruno Sammartino title reign," said Apter.
"I was there when Ivan Koloff beat Bruno [to end his first title reign]. It was one of the most dramatic nights in the world – silence. Then when Pedro Morales beat Ivan Koloff, Bruno came into the ring and passed that belt and put it around the waist of [Pedro] and the crowd went crazy.
"An era that will never be duplicated in my mind."
Apter and Turner's interview with Malnoske aired as part of today's episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.