Eight things you need to know about Bruno Sammartino

Bruno Sammartino spent much of his childhood hiding from the Nazis

Much has been written about Bruno Sammartino’s staggering list of achievements as an adult, but the story of his childhood is truly the most unbelievable part of his fascinating life.

During Sammartino’s youth in Pizzoferrato, Italy, his small village was seized by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi forces, causing Bruno’s mother to flee with her seven children to a mountain called Valla Rocca in order to stay alive. At the time, Sammartino’s father had already immigrated to America, so his mother was forced to protect her children by herself. During this difficult period, four of Bruno’s siblings died as the family spent weeks with nothing to eat but the snow on the ground. Once, Sammartino and his family were even lined up in front of a Nazi firing squad, seconds from death before they were rescued at the last moment.

Miraculously, Bruno survived Hitler’s reign of terror and a near fatal case of scarlet fever before arriving in the United States in 1950 — an unspeakably traumatic childhood which no doubt filled him with the drive to succeed in America.