The International Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame sure will have some eyebrows raised with their latest acquisition as the organization has gotten hold of Bruno Sammartino’s WWWF Championship. This was known as “Bruno’s Belt” which was around the waist of the WWE Hall Of Famer from 1965 – 1971. Details of IPWHF’s big grab and history of the title are below.
“The centerpiece, the focal point, of the newly formed International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame is finally revealed,” proclaimed renowned pro wrestling writer and historian, Bill Apter, reflecting on the significance of this news. “Pro Wrestling fans rejoice as you will be able to see this rare gem up close and personal when the IPWHF opens its doors. It’s an amazing treasure, and there is no better way to preserve its rich history and the legacy of the great champion whowore it so proudly–the ‘Living Legend,’ Bruno Sammartino.”
“The incredible first reign of Bruno Sammartino itself qualifies the 1965-1971 WWWF World Championship belt as one of the most significant objects in the history of professional wrestling,” says Seth Turner, President of the IPWHF, who personally procured the title belt in an auction conducted by the Sammartino estate. “Few people know the history behind Bruno’s belt and why some have called it the ‘holy grail’ of professional wrestling artifacts, and the IPWHF is the perfect place to share it.” Turner has agreed to loan the artifact to the IPWHF for display in its museum, currently in the planning stages.
“Bruno’s Belt” is indeed an apt moniker for this one-of-a-kind item, as it remained in Sammartino’s possession for over 52 years, until his passing in 2018. To commemorate his historic first title reign, the championship belt was gifted to Bruno by Gorilla Monsoon and Phil Zacko of Capitol Wrestling, which ran the World Wide Wrestling Federation at that time. For the rest of Bruno’s life, the great champion considered this belt one of his most treasured possessions.
Bruno was not the only champion to wear his belt, however. After Ivan Kohloff defeated Sammartino on January 18, 1971, ending his historic title reign, Kohloff briefly wore Bruno’s belt as the new WWWF Champion. A few weeks later, on February 8, 1971, when Pedro Morales was crowned champion, Bruno himself presented Morales with the very same title belt. Although a new version was soon created for Morales, this lineage imbues Bruno’s Belt with even greater significance as the title worn by three of the first four WWWF champions.
Bruno’s 1965-1971 version of the championship is the oldest surviving title belt officially created for a champion of World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE, which is today the largest and most successful professional wrestling company in the world.
If you’d like to support the IPWHF which is aiming to open at a location in upstate New York, you can do so by checking out their online store. All proceeds go to support the organization’s development. WrestleZone had an exclusive interview with Tony Vellano, one of the main operator’s of the IPWHF, who gives details on those very developments. You can hear that interview below.