Athletes & Celebrities

Old-School Ass Kicker Bruno Sammartino Extended Interview

This legendary professional wrestler held the world title for a record 11+ years straight in the 1960s and ‘70s. At 77, he’s still going strong.


Born: October 6, 1935
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 275 pounds (when he was a pro wrestler)
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Fun Fact: Sammartino won the bodybuilding title Mr. Allegheny in the late 1950s.

Muscle & Fitness: You trained with Arnold Schwarzenegger a few times in your day, right?
Bruno Sammartino:
Back in the ‘60s, when I wrestled in California, I used to stay in Santa Monica. So I worked out with Arnold, Franco Columbu, Dave Draper and those guys a number of times.

What were those workouts like?
I loved working out with those guys because not only did they have great bodies, but they used fairly good weights too. I enjoyed training with them just because of the fact that they were the elite bodybuilders at the time. But I’m proud to say, too, that I was pretty good lifter on my own. Before I turned pro as a wrestler I competed in both Olympic lifting and powerlifting. Well, bench pressing and squatting, of course, are exercises that bodybuilders and everybody does, so I was pretty good at those. I had heard so much about guys who trained there [at Joe Gold’s gym in Venice] and the lifts they did, I wondered if I was up to par with them. So I was very pleased to work out there because I think I lifted as good and better than most.

During the height of your wrestling career during the ’60s and ‘70s, what was your training like?
I was working out three, sometime three and a half, hours a day with weights. I would work out in the morning because I wanted to be very rested up for the wrestling matches at night. So I would do a workout, then have a light breakfast, and then I would go to bed for a few hours. I would eat an early dinner no later than 3:00 so that it would be fully digested by the time I went in the ring. So yeah, I worked out very hard and heavy, but I always used to try and take a couple hours nap afterward just to recoup and rest up.

How often did you have wrestling matches?
Just about every night. I would wrestle six nights a week, and there were times when I would wrestle every other Sunday at the Maple Leaf Garden in Toronto. So two weeks out of the month I’d be wrestling seven days a week, and the other two weeks I’d do six nights a week. I had a very grueling schedule.

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