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Bruno Sammartino recently spoke with Wrestling101 about his Hall of Fame induction and more. Check out the highlights:
On his career highlights: “In those eleven plus years that I was champion I wrestled all over but some of the most memorable matches that I had were against the likes of, Killer Kowalski, Ivan Koloff, Don Leo Jonathan, Dr. Bill Miller, Gorilla Monsoon, and Hans Mortier who was also European and the list goes on. I had some big matches in Japan against Shohei Baba and we fought for over an hour many times, I wrestled guys in Australia, Mexico, and Spain. One of the highlights of my career was when I picked up Haystacks Calhoun, who was over 600lbs, that was exciting because no one had ever been able to lift him and when I did lift him I thought the roof of Madison Square Garden was going to fly off, people went absolutely wild. Wrestling Buddy Rogers even though it was a short match it was great because that was my opportunity to become the headliner. I was very fortunate because I got to wrestle some of the truly great heavyweights in the business, I wrestled them all so today I look back and I’m very proud and happy.”
On the movie being made about his life: “I’m very pleased with the documentary and it has been completed, I’ve seen it and I was very happy with it because it’s one hundred per cent the truth. We made three or four trips to Italy and we even went up that mountain where we hid from the Nazi’s and filmed up there and we even interviewed the people of my town that are still around who went through the same ordeal as myself. I did a lot in telling the story and they interviewed a lot of people, it’s about two hours but I was very pleased with it because it was very honest, very truthful and I’m very anxious for it to show. We are speaking to a number of distributing companies as there is a lot of interest from people in Japan, Germany, Italy and England that want to see it and it will be broadcasted by one of the networks over here in America later on in the year. The movie, they have finished the screen writing and I’ve been told by the producer that there are two studios in Hollywood that are interested in the film but there are some independent producers that would like to produce it as well. They are at the process of who is going to fund it, but the producer Scott Rosenfelt has told me they are going to start casting people who are going to play the part of myself and other people that are going to be involved. To be honest I’m more excited about the documentary because the documentary is all factual and it involves the people that were actually involved.”
On why he agreed to join the Hall of Fame: “I have refused many times in the past to enter the WWE Hall of Fame, and the reason was because I did not like what became of the WWE. For example there was much steroid and drug use that is something that I was very appalled by. There was also the way they changed the wrestling, there was nudity, there was some vulgarity with the things that they did and the profanity bothered me. I hated to see the business that I was in for 25 years come down with all these different issues and so I spoke up about it, I tried to bring some changes, I spoke of the dangers of doing drugs but nobody seemed to care so I just put wrestling behind me and I went on with my life. About six or seven months ago this fellow Triple H, who is Vince McMahon’s son in law, he called me up and he started telling me that they would like me to come into the Hall of Fame but he understood that in the past I was pretty outspoken about a number of different things, but he assured me that they had made a lot of changes. He told me they had this famous doctor who I knew, Dr. Joseph Maroon, and he was in charge of all the drug testing and he said that they had been very strict with that and that they had made great gains from it. He also told me that they had stopped all of the nudity, vulgarity and the profanity and they’ve done away with all that because they wanted to make it more family friendly. I started watching it again for a few months and I saw the wrestlers looked like athletes but they did not look like steroid freaks like those from the past. I was happy to see that and then I talked to Dr. Maroon and he assured me that they were doing very strict drug testing and that he had a team of other doctors working with him and that they were very serious and that things were under control. After a few months of watching it, I saw that all of the nudity, vulgarity and profanity had all gone and I was then convinced that this was the case. I had many long conversations with Paul, and he told me that they wanted to go more and more back to what wrestling used to be like. When he told me all of that it was the key and the main reason why I then said okay under those conditions I would join the WWE Hall of Fame.”
On Arnold Schwarzenegger inducting him: “There were a few people who I wouldn’t have minded inducting me into the Hall of Fame, but they asked me if I would allow them to choose someone that is worthy and famous to do this. They told me they were going to come up with a couple of names to see if I agree but when they mentioned Arnold I agreed as we have been friends for quite a while.”
On the Olympics dropping wrestling: “I was very surprised when I read that and saw it on the news, I did not understand it and I still do not understand the decision to drop wrestling from the Olympic games. Wrestling is probably the oldest sport in the world and it has been around since ancient times and it has always been popular. I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of protests about wrestling being dropped from the Olympic games and maybe if enough voices are heard then they might change their minds. If they do take it off I think it’s tragic, it will be a shame because wrestling in my opinion definitely belongs in the Olympic games.”