At the height of his career, Bruno Sammartino had achieved celebrity and recognition that made his name a public catch phrase. Tens of thousands of fans attended his biggest bouts and he sold-out Madison Square Garden as a headliner 188 times! His peers revered him, Hollywood celebrities courted him, Italian-Americans celebrated his achievements as a national son and even the Pope accepted a private audience with Bruno and his family. This was the public face of one of the world’s greatest legends of wrestling history and as Arnold Schwarzenegger said recently, “The star of all stars”!.
It is Bruno Sammartino, son of Italian immigrant parents, who looked out at that world of privileged fame with the eyes of a boy whose family fled the Nazi invasion of their home in Italy, feared for their lives at the hands of Hitler’s SS Troop’s, were nearly machine gunned to death execution style and suffered malnutrition and near-fatal illness only to arrive in a country where his inability to speak the language and his poor physical health as a 13 year old 75 pound that made him a focus of ethnic ridicule and an easy target of schoolyard bullies.
There are moments in a person’s life when the choices made forever change them. Placing the survival of others first, speaking the truth without fear of the consequences, choosing to accept death with a peaceful heart; these are the life-altering moments only few individuals face within a life time. At the age of 8, Bruno had already witnessed his mother, Emilia, face these challenges with a loving soul while shielding her children with a will of iron. His mother was always his hero and long before he became a worldwide celebrity with the WWF/WWE, it’s the story of how he got to America is as riveting as any tale ever told.
Throughout his life, Bruno faced his own moments of challenge both in and out of the wrestling ring. This documentary provides an in-depth look at the man who holds honor above fame and dignity above fortune. It provides Bruno the opportunity to share the truth behind the speculation and allows others intimately involved with his life to share their experiences about the man behind the titles.
Bruno has been a favorite son of Pittsburgh since his early career and he continued to be celebrated by his hometown fans and dignitaries especially after his passing in April 2018. These interviews, recorded at the scene of many of his famous career encounters just weeks before its demise, covers the professional aspects of his lengthy career and reveals details of the many challenges he faced as a legendary sports figure.
Historic images and films plus recreations supplement the interviews and provide a chronological thread for detailing Bruno’s improbable rise to become the strongest man in the world. Additionally, Arnold Schwarzenegger flew from a movie set in California to Madison Square Garden just to induct Bruno into the WWE Hall-Of-Fame in 2013.
You’ll see interviews with his wife, Carol, and a candid look at facets of Bruno the husband and father, and his sister and brother, Mary & Paul providing insights into his life’s story. This in-depth look at the man behind the belt brings to light the juxtaposition of a legendary athlete’s world wide fame and his everyday life. His example served as a mentorship to countless young people in their own lives while his own family struggled with the same heartbreaks and successes as did so many of his fans. Despite being the vehicle from which many made their fortunes, even his family home in Pizzoferrato, which the citizens designated a treasured museum, is owned by a stranger. Historical documentation and footage enhance the story of an athlete who held wrestling’s most prestigious title - not once, but twice - while personal interviews with friends and family provide deeper layers to this candid look at the intricacies of balancing a renowned career with family commitments.
Many may have heard and shared stories and anecdotes of Bruno’s life, but only in this documentary is it possible to hear from the Champion himself, his brother and sister in what drove him to excel beyond all others, to face the impossible dream plus you’ll see exclusive Sammartino home movies.
Finally, the story behind the heart of a champion and wrestling’s living legend and the love of a mother and son tested to the limits of human capacity. You’ll root for him all over again, the greatest champion of all time - through the eyes of the man that saw it all, “Bruno Sammartino”!
Special screenings from November 29 - December 5, 2019 at the following locations:
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