Bruno Mars pays tribute to late wrestling legend who inspired his stage name: “He was such a gentleman”

Kai Z. FengLegendary wrestler Bruno Sammartino passed away yesterday at age 82, and now his namesake is paying tribute to him.

Bruno Mars, whose dad nicknamed him “Bruno” after Sammartino, tweeted, “Sending love and prayers to Bruno Sammartino’s family. He was such a gentleman when I met him & really meant a lot to my father & I. RIP.”  Bruno was born Peter Gene Hernandez.

Last August, the singer met the wrestler backstage in Pittsburgh. He posted a photo with him on Instagram, writing, “I was nicknamed after this professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino. Tonight in Pittsburgh I had the honor of meeting him!”

In the pic, Mars is smiling proudly while holding one of Sammartino’s championship belts.

After the encounter, Sammartino told Sports Illustrated’s Extra Mustard column, “I was told he really wanted to meet me. So we arranged for a meeting, and I must tell you, even though he is a popular fellow, I am not really familiar with him.”

He added, though, “When we met in person, I was extremely impressed. He seemed so humble and was so very respectful. He called up his father, who was ecstatic that his son met Bruno Sammartino, and I brought a replica of my [championship] belt to give to his dad.”

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