Spring Premier Auction 2020

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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/2/2020

Before Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan or Randy Savage, there was Bruno Sammartino. The Italian-born American weightlifter set a world record with a 565-lb. bench press in 1959. He was “The World’s Strongest Man” well before it became an international competition. That same year at age 24, he made his professional wrestling debut. Thus, began the career of the greatest and most influential wrestler of all time. After defeating “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers in 1963 for the World Wide Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Championship, Sammartino held the belt until 1971 (2,803 straight days) – the longest WWF reign ever. He added a second title stretch from 1973 to ’77 (1,237 days). Given many nicknames early on, by the time he retired in 1987, Bruno was simply “The Living Legend.” The man never cheated the sport, refusing to take steroids despite the fact it was encouraged throughout much of his career.

To this day, he is widely considered "The Godfather" of Pro Wrestling whose influence led to an entertainment phenomenon for the masses, paving the way for contemporary superstars like The Rock and John Cena. The 5’10” 265-pounder was known for his “bearhug” finishing move and larger-than-life persona. He sold out Madison Square Garden a record 188 times, more than any other single celebrity! Most importantly, he was a vocal proponent of clean competition, speaking out vehemently against performance-enhancing drugs and the vulgar storylines so encouraged by Vince McMahon Jr. when he took over the WWF from his father in the late ‘80s.

SCP Auctions is proud to present Bruno Sammartino’s 1963 WWWF (later shortened to WWF) Championship belt which stands as arguably the most important pro wrestling artifact ever offered publicly. Lined with blue velvet, the leather belt’s main feature is the large metallic centerpiece (roughly 8” by 6”) with decorative golden accents.  There is a crown on top followed by a globe and “WWWF WORLD CHAMPION” around a raised depiction of two wrestlers in the middle. Flanking the centerpiece are two medium-sized golden stars (around 3” across), the left boasting “BRUNO SAMMARTINO WORLD WIDE WRESTLING FEDERATION CHAMPION” and the right reading “DEFEATED BUDDY ROGERS MAY 17, 1963 MADISON SQUARE GARDEN.”

The reverse side has Bruno’s full name autograph in large 8-9/10 black marker. A long zipper on the back reveals the hind nuts and bolts used to secure the three metallic features. Quite a unique design! The black leather strap and gold-washed buckle fasten perfectly well. The one-of-a-kind belt measures nearly 50” long and weighs three pounds. It shows quite a bit of wear from aging and storage, yet remains in remarkable condition. Beginning in the early 1970s, the WWWF (through WWF era and today's WWE) would not let its champions keep their title belts--similar to how professional boxing organzations operate; instead, the same belt would be passed to the next champion. According to Bruno's family, this offered belt was officially made in 1965 (a couple years after his '63 title victory over Rogers) as a replacement to the original because the WWWF wanted to spruce up the look and design for the reigning champion. He wore it in old promo shoots (see our posted images) and it was Bruno's pride and joy for over fifty years until his death in 2018. Includes letter of provenance from his son and full LOA from Beckett (A32044) for his autograph.

Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $7,500
Final prices include buyers premium.: $23,351
Number Bids: 10
Auction closed on Saturday, May 2, 2020.
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