By Dave Crawley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Legendary wrestler and entertainer Bruno Sammartino drew sellout crowds to Madison Square Garden, in the ’60s and ’70s.

Fans came to see the man who reigned 11 years as a pro wrestling champion.

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Now 77, the North Hills man has slowed down a little.

“I train six days a week,” he said. “I do five miles of road work, three days a week, and the other three days I pump iron.”

He built muscle the hard way, setting a world bench press record in 1959. Years later, he’s a role model for those who followed.

But Sammartino repeatedly turned down offers to be inducted in the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame.

“So much steroids and unfortunately other drugs involved in that,” he said. “And I was very appalled by that. I hated seeing the game that I had been in for all those years come down to that. We started having some deaths and so forth, reported due to these drugs.”

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He challenged the industry to come clean. WWE responded, hiring Pittsburgh neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon as its medical director.

“And they do very strict drug testing,” Sammartino says. “And just from watching it now, I can see that these guys are not on drugs.”

After years of a toiled relationship between Sammartino and the wrestling entertainment giant, the two sides have put aside their differences. On Monday, Sammartino finally agreed to be inducted.

  • Sammartino joined the Fan Morning Show on Tuesday. Listen to the audio here:

This time, when the Hall of Fame came calling about induction in April, Sammartino said, “Being that they made those changes, now that they want me in there so badly I absolutely accept it because they did what I wanted them to do.”

That may be his biggest win of all.

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