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SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Reggie Parks
Reggie Parks is presented a title belt by Bobby Heenan, left, and Karl Lauer at the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion in Las Vegas in February 2001. -- Greg Oliver, CANOE
BORN: August 1934 in Edmonton, Alberta
6'2", 225-230 pounds
AKA: The Avenger, Mr. High

Edmonton-born Reggie Parks is probably the wrestler to have held the greatest number of championship belts -- not many others can claim to have held literally hundreds and hundreds of belts.

It helps that he designs and makes championship belts.

The 66-year-old Parks explained to SLAM! Wrestling how his evolution from successful pro wrestler to belt maker extraordinaire took place.

Turn back the clock 37 years, and Parks was wrestling in Omaha, Nebraska. The promoter there, Joe Dusek, had a great big tag team trophy instead of a belt. "The trophy was about six feet tall, and anybody who touched it, it would fall apart," Parks said with a laugh.

His tag team partner Doug Gilbert (who was Mr. Low to Parks' Mr. High) suggested they make up some title belts, and Dusek agreed.

"From there, word got out," Parks said. "I made for the WWF for 10 years, WCW, independent groups. Just about everybody you could think of."

Over the last 10 years, he's made about 100 belts a year -- all by hand. Before that, when he was still involved with the WWF as an occasional referee, he did about a dozen belts a year.

You've seen some of his belts in the WWF, WCW, AWA and many of the original and current NWA promotions as well as Japanese, Mexican and independent promotions worldwide, as well as boxing, Tae Kwon Do and Ultimate Fighting Championship belts.

Reggie Parks as The Avenger. -- courtesy Chris Swisher
How many belts have you made, Reggie? "I don't know. I can't even remember, I've made so many for so many people. I've made for football players, I've made for boxers, Evander Holyfield ... the Oakland A's when they won the world title [and] made one for their manager; Coors Brewery, they've done a bunch of belts, Levi Strauss the clothing manufacturer. Anybody that wants a belt, not necessarily have anything to do with athletics."

Growing up in Edmonton, sports was always a part of Parks' life. He credits Stu Hart for his start in wrestling.

"I started at a boxing and wrestling club in Edmonton, then Stu Hart took me under his wing. He more or less was the guy that got me going, got me out on the road," Parks explained. "He was involved in the promotion in Seattle, Washington area. That's where I started out. I went from there to Portland, L.A., Texas. I was good enough to create a reputation for myself and then I went from there."

Parks' reputation was based on large part on his physique, strength and his 'cast iron stomach'. One time, a Volkswagen Bug was driven over his stomach to prove his toughness. Some called him the "Quiet Superman".

Again, Hart is given credit by Parks. "Stu's tough because he's good. He takes no prisoners. He didn't teach you a lot of technique. He taught you how to be tough."

Currently residing in Tuscon, Arizona, Parks has American permanent resident status but is still a Canadian citizen. During his career, he spent a lot of time in the U.S. midwest, working in Omaha, Nebraska, Indianapolis, Chicago, Denver.

Tag team wrestling was always a specialty, and resulted in numerous titles. "I must have had half a dozen different partners," he said with a smile.

"I think that Danny Hodge was probably my favourite partner. I was never in any danger with him being my partner. He's one of those double tough guys. He could do anything, [an] NCAA boxing and wrestling champion," Parks said. "Nobody's tougher than him. He's roughly my size and my weight."

When creating a ring persona, Parks admitted that he studied the best. "I patterned a lot of my stuff after Lou Thesz. I sort of liked what he did, and I tried to copy some of his moves."

Despite his years in wrestling, travelling the globe, and later making belts, until this past February at the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion in Las Vegas, Parks had been without a championship belt of his own. Everything he had made had gone out the door to honour champions, celebrate birthdays and hang on the walls of the self-professed 'belt marks' across the globe.

His business partner in the belt-making game, Ed Chuman, the NWA Midwest promoter, organized some friends to present Parks with a beautiful custom championship belt. The belt was enscribed 'Reggie Parks, King Of Belts', and had an engraving of Reggie holding up one of his most famous belts, the WWF Championship Belt worn by Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin until replaced with the current belt.

Parks was truly touched. It was a unique honour for one of the greats.

Reggie Parks Championship Belts web site



-- By GREG OLIVER, SLAM! Wrestling, July 2001


Memories

 I had the privilege of meeting Reggie Parks at the NWA 51st Anniversary Show in Charlotte, NC. I was down there representing the CWF and NWA Canada. I met Reggie at the hotel the first night that I got there. EZ Ryder and I were in the bar when we were introduced to Reggie. We hit it off and we hung out with him for the next couple of days leading up to the show. We drove around Charlotte with Reggie, Ed Chuman and Mitch Hartsy. They showed us everything there was to see in the city. We went to the Harley Shop, Ric Flair's Gym and various other stuff. Reggie told us some great stories about the old STAMPEDE Territory and some of the other great things that happened to him in his career. We also spoke of his belts and what honour it was for him to have so many great men wear something that he made with his own hands. He is soft spoken and one of the great men in this business. I encourage any and all to check out his website and if you are in the market I would recommend his belts to anyone. I never got the chance to thank Reggie for his kindness over the couple of days that we were in North Carolina but I will always remember the experience. Thanks Reggie.
 Crusher Carlsen


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