Wrestling Legend Bruno Sammartino: My Jewish Friend Inspired My Career

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Those like me who grew up in the Eighties will likely be familiar with professional wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation. And if you were a huge fan like I was, you’d also be familiar with the name Bruno Sammartino, a WWE Hall of Famer.

Bruno just passed away at the age of 82, an event I may have just tweeted about, without this blog post, if it was not for this interesting tidbit: his start in wrestling can be traced back to a Joo.

He weighed 83 pounds when he arrived in Pittsburgh at age 14. As a scrawny Oakland teen who spoke broken English, Bruno became the target of bullies. A Jewish friend named Maurice took pity on him, Sammartino says, and invited him and his brother, Paul, to join the Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association in Oakland.

“It was the first time in my life I saw weights, and it didn’t seem like there were any small enough that I could lift. But on my way home, I had a feeling in my gut that this would be something great for me. I couldn’t wait to go back.”

RIP Bruno, and may his family be comforted.



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A lawyer by education, David Lange - founder and managing editor of Israellycool - found his calling in advocating for Israel and the Jewish people. He is available for public speaking engagements.