Bruno Sammartino

Interview Oct 1997

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Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) All I ever wore was a pair of tights and boots. No jacket, no anything. When I left the dressing room, I would get a standing ovation and people chanted my name. I would acknowledge by waving and saying "thank you". Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) Later, I would see Hogan begging for applause by cupping his ear. Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) In my day, if they accepted you, not just me but others, they loved you or hated you and you didn't have to do anything to get the reaction. They were into it and watched it and reacted with their feelings about you. Now they have to put noisemakers for cheers and boos because the audience doesn't respond. Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) I also remember, whether Madison Square Garden, or any other arena...I could look as far as my eyes would take me and would see the same fans no matter how often we would run shows. They came every show. They were really really into it. Same fans, and same seats. It's not like that today at all.

gorgeous99 (Prodigy Member) Dear Bruno, I grew up in the Pittsburgh, Pa. area. My dad and I would spend every Saturday night watching studio wrestling on TV. We especially enjoyed watching you. I hope you are well and enjoying life. What activities are you envolved with these days? Do you support the current Wrestling Federation? I hope to hear from you soon and wish you well. Jerry

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) I get up in the morning and do a 5 to 6 mile job, I have a gym at home and do some streching. I read the paper, and then relaz a little bit. I take care of chores around the home and then spend time with my grandchildren. For me, it's a most pleasent time in my life.

Tomisme (Prodigy Member) Hello Bruno - how is your health these days, and did you ever get mixed up with steroids

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) Absolutely not. People know me as a wrestler, but a lot of people don't know I competed in power lifting. I did 565 on a bench press, and 715 on a squat or deep knee bend, and a 690 lb dead lift. The reason I mention these lifts is some years later out of York PA where a lot of guys trained, someone included me as one of the strongest weightlifters. In the later 70's when I was just finishing up, a lot of the guys would ask me about those lifts and would want to know what kind of steroids I Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) was on in those days. I didn't know what steroids were in those days. I first heard about them in the late 60's and asked a guy at my gym. They told me body builders and weightlifters were taking them because it made the muscles grow faster and more defined. My reaction was 'this isn't normal'. I found out about the studies and the dangers. I never heard of steroids when I was lifting and when I found out about them I suspected something was wrong. There had to be something negative about Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) them. I not only never touched them, I told everyone I could tell not to touch them and you could acheive the same thing through dedication and hard work. Their reaction was it was impossible to lift those kinds of weights without the 'juice' as they call it. That's the danger and that's why it's sad. With that kind of mentality that stuff will keep going on. It's going on today despite what they say about testing.

LegendPM (Prodigy Member) Who was the best wrestler you never had a chance to face?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) I would have liked to wrestle Bert Eserati of England. He had an enormous reputation out of England. I'm told he was one of the toughest to ever live, but I never had the opportunity to see him.

LegendPM (Prodigy Member) Many wrestlers today are known for their bad attiudes outside of the ring, what wrestlers of your time were problems?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) To be honest people are people and of course there were some that were not very nice. I don't want to name names. I hate to talk about people who can't defend themselves. The numbers are small. In my day we respected the fans and understood it was because of them that we had whatever success we had. If not for the fans, we were nothing.

Moderator (Speaker) Each and every Monday night, join us in the shared RAW/Nitro room for a live discussion of the events as they unfold.

(Prodigy Member) What is my other hero Chief J. Strongbow up to these days?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) All I know about Strongbow, at least by what I've been told, is the WWF released him along with George Steele and I believe Goulet. I believe he is back in Georgia with his wife and is retired.

LegendPM (Prodigy Member) Did you ever consider going to Japan after your career in the US was finished? (ie Stan Hansen)

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) Absoltuetly not. When I retired, I retired period. I did go to Japan on two occassions. One organization invited me to come to bring back stars of yesteryear. I went in the ring and waved at the fans and that was it. When I was finished, I was finished.

LegendPM (Prodigy Member) Did you ever have a chance to wrestle Dory Funk Jr? Where would you put him with the other alltime greats?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) You know what, I never wrestled him. He was with the NWA and I was with the WWWF. I saw him wrestle several times and I thought he was very very good. I know a lot of people may not rate him as high as his brother Terry, because Terry was an action guy. I thought Dory was a very very good wrestler and would put him with a lot of the greats as far as pure wrestling.

LegendPM (Prodigy Member) Have you ever thought of starting your own web site like Dory Funk Jr has featuring stories from your wrestling days?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) No, I've never thought of that. I'm not that creative that way.

charterone (Prodigy Member) Bruno, you once saved me from George the Animal Steele in Atlantic City NJ , what was his real name and what did he do outside wrestling?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) George the Animal Steele's real name is Jim Myers. He was an assistant football coach at Michigan State and was the wrestling coach there.

Oracle 666 (Prodigy Member) What is the worst injury you sustained during your illustrious wrestling career, and which wrestler caused it? I saw you ringside in Conneticuit about 1963. It was the thrill of my adolecence. Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) My worst and most dangerous injury was when I broke my neck in Madison Square Garden. When I broke my neck with Stan Hanson it was not the Lariat, it was when he picked me up for a bodyslam and we had been going at a good pace and I was sweaty and weighed 270 and he dropped me on my neck and broke my neck. I came within one milimeter from being paralyzed from the neck down.

Ishbu1 (Prodigy Member) If you were elected to the WWF Hall of Fame ( Which, in many peoples opinion, is long overdue) Would you accept the election and show at the induction?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) If it was for the WWWF that I represented for all those years, but I don't consider myself a part of the WWF. It's a different organization and I don't like what it represents. I really would not like to be inducted in it and wouldn't want to be present anyway. I don't take it seriously. Look at the Hall of Fame. It's a joke. How can you get inducted. In Baseball or Football there are 360 writers that vote. In the WWF it's McMahon that decides. I was World Champion for 12 years, and yet Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) there are people in that Hall of Fame that never headlined one arena. One of the really nice people in the Hall of Fame, and I don't want to say bad things about him, but Johnny Rodz is in the Hall of Fame. He never headlined. To be in the Hall of Fame, you should have achievements and stats that qualify you to be in it. Look at some of the names and wonder how they made it into the Hall of Fame and you will see like I see that's it's a joke. I have no desire to be any part of it.

rbac (Prodigy Member) The WWF seems to be reverting back to its heydays of the late 70s and early 80s by occasionally bringing back wrestlers like Jimmy Snuka, Rocky Johnson, Ivan Putski. Do you think the gimmicks have become tiresome? Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) I know from when I was there as commentator. The gimmicks turned it into a complete joke. It has no credibility whatsoever. People don't take anything serious. They can bring back anyone they want but it will be hard to change people's feelings. They may bring Putski or Johnson back, but to a new breed of fan.

redrocker97 (Prodigy Member) Bruno, what would Vince McMahon have to do or say to reconcile the animosity you seem to have toward the WWF? Every year, us fans cry foul w/snub of then

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) He would have to say "Yes Bruno, you are right...we did allow a lot of ugly things to come in this organization, we have turned it into a joke, but we are going to do legitimate thing here to clean all that up and will do away with the nonsence and will go back to like when my father used to run it. I admit we are responsible for what we have done. Would you help out." If I knew he said that from the heart, I would help in any way I could. I don't hate McMahon, a lot of people ask that. I Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) just dislike what he has done to the game I loved all those years. I do not hate him, but I do dislike him.

StudlyTC (Prodigy Member) What would happen if you were inducted to the WWF Hall of Fame? Would you stiff Vince and no-show? Or would you let bygons be bygons and forget about the past?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) How could you let bygones be bygones when feelings are so strong on both sides. I know how they feel about me, and they know how I feel about what they have done. How do you just show up and shake hands. It would be so ingenuine. I couldn't do that.

T Dungy (Prodigy Member) Bruno - What happened between your son & Vince McMahon to make hime leave the WWF

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) David did something he has to take some blame for. He was in a town in New York after I had left, and some fan really got into his case, and I believe according to David the fan spit at him. David shouldn't have done it, and was absolutely wrong, and he hit the guy. The police arrested David for hitting the guy. The WWF terminated him the very next day. That's what happened. The suspicion was that this fellow was set up to do just what he did to David. After the fellow took the punch Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) refused to press charges. The thing McMahon has often said that I went against him harder because of him firing David. That was absolutely not true. I said he deserved getting fired. What I resented about the action McMahon took. If you have a policy that a wrestler who hits a fan, it should go for everybody. At that time, there were lawsuits against other wrestlers, Valentine, Savage, and Roberts had all hit fans and nothing was done. David was the only one. What he did do and it goes Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) to show how he does business...."David Sammartino, the son of Bruno Sammartino, was terminated". That was wrong. because I had left him already, you can see what he did. If you have a policy, and that is a good policy, do it with everyone.

Love Me all (Prodigy Member) Have you ever faced Bobo Brazil? If so, who won?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) I wrestled Bobo twice. I think the first match was short because of curfew. We went in the ring about 15 minutes before curfew and time ran out. The second match I won.

redrocker97 (Prodigy Member) Bruno, time and time again we hear stories of wrestlers dying and no life insurance for their family. Do you think life insurance or even a pro-bono "workman's comp" is feasable in this sport, and would you support it? It's a shame due to the nature of the sport that many families are left without support...

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) The reason why there never was in the past was you had to do those things on your own in my day. We were independent contractors. I was in business for myself as a wrestler. It was my responsibility to take out insurance. Today it's changed. Today you can't say they are independent contractors. They sign contracts with WWF and WCW, and I would belive they are employees. As such, they should absolutely have some kind of insurance, some kind of pension fund, they are no longer independent.

Nomufftotuff (Prodigy Member) Bruno, I have been a fan of yours since I was a child. It would be great to see you again in some fashion. I am aware of the feelings that you do have towards the sport at this time, however, is there a chance that we might see you make some sort of an appearance.

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) It's possible because there have been a few people in touch with me who want to get back to wrestling without the gimmicks and the nonsense and they have asked me to be involved as an advisor. When I hear stuff like that I get excited. If it happens, it's possible I'll be appearing some places.

smallworld4 (Prodigy Member) Hi Bruno! You go back to the time when I got interested in wrestling. My question is this: whom is the better wrestler, Buddy Rogers or Freddy Blassie?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) Buddy Rogers is gone, God Rest His Soul. Blassie is still here. Blassie was rough and tough, but as far as exciting action in the ring, without question it was Buddy Rogers.

Love Me all (Prodigy Member) I remember seeing you at the 20th year anniversary with WCW with TBS Clash if the Chapions. It was good to see you. Did you attend just to be there, or were you there for a special reason???

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) That was the time Bill Watts invited me. I had a couple of meetings to discuss the situation with the wrestling down there, and that was at the same time so I appeared at that event.

Mat Mktpl (Prodigy Member) Bruno, during the period in 1984 or so when you came back to WWF as a commentator and wrestled a few dates, were there any guys working for the company that you considered to be bright spots - guys who you really thought a lot of as wrestlers?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) I thought that Bret Hart at that time, having come from a wrestling family, could do a lot of very good stuff. I thought there were a few that were good to watch.

Mat Mktpl (Prodigy Member) Bruno, when you first started wrestling, who were the guys in the business that you idolized or looked up to?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) There were a lot. Argentina Rocca, Yukon Eric, people who may not have been popular but I admired their achievements. Buddy Rogers and I never liked each other but I respected him. Kowalski was like a machine. Don Leo Jonathan was so agile. I respected them all in different ways.

SKI NH (Prodigy Member) Do you remember the tag tea match in the sixties when you came in in to the middle of the match from a trip, suitcases and all?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) There were times in the winter months when we had flight delays and that was one of those times. There were so many situations like that where travel delays happened. I don't particularly remember that incident, but that must be what happened

. kona hawaii (Prodigy Member) was there any city that you enjoyed wrestling in more than any other??

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) There were a lot of cities I truly enjoyed, but because of the name and reputation, I'd have to say Madison Square Garden in New York.

Mat Mktpl (Prodigy Member) I recently saw a tape from maybe 65' or 66' of you wrestling Giant Baba in Japan in a 2 out of 3 fall, 60 minute draw. It was a fantastic match. What kind of wrestler was Baba? How would you rate his skills. Also, did you ever have the chance to wrestle Dory Funk, Jr. or Jack Brisco?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) I wrestled Baba almost everytime I went to Japan. That particular match, we were both young at the time. Baba is one year younger than me, so we were close to 30. Baba at that time moved well, and was in very good shape. He was lean for how big he was. It was always awkward because of his style and size, but I thought for a one hour match it was pretty exciting. I remember it was the month of August and there was no air conditioning and it was unbearably hot. I weighed about 270 at the Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) time and I don't know how much I lost. I've never wrestled Dory Funk Jr and never wrestled Brisco. They were with the NWA at the time and for a long time those two organizations stayed away from each other.

Mat Mktpl (Prodigy Member) Bruno, over the years you wrestled in just about every major arena there is. Apart from Madison Square Garden, what were some of your favorite buildings or cities to wrestle in?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) I liked Boston Garden, even though it was old. The way it was constructed, the fans were never very far away. It wasn't spread out. I also liked the Spectrum in Philadelphia. I liked the Capitol Center. The Cow Palace in San Francisco where I wrestled Ray Stevens, it was like Boston the way the fans were close to the ring. Kiel Auditorium because of it's reputation for wrestling. There were a lot of others.

GTO389 100 (Prodigy Member) How did Frank Tunney treat his wrestlers?

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) Frank Tunney, among the promoters I wrestled for, was one of my favorites. I found him to be a good man, a decent man, and honest man, and I thought he was a fair man who's word was good. I do not have one bad word to say about Frank Tunney. He always treated me well and was a good good man. I had great respect and liked him a lot. He was a good man.

Bruno Sammartino (Speaker) Thank you so much for all the great questions. It's good to know so many of you remember the old days. I've enjoyed being here, and appreciate all your questions.

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