Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter
Reggie Parks, a journeyman wrestler who may be best known as the maker of championship belts for pro wrestling and other combat sports, died on October 7 at the age of 87.
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Parks died suddenly. He had just a few weeks ago been in Las Vegas for the Cauliflower Alley convention and had seen many of his friends.
Parks was known for having a great physique, which he kept well into his 40s where he remained lean and muscular and worked for years under a mask as The Avenger to hide his face had aged.
He did most of the championship belts in the 70s, 80s, and 90s for almost every promotion, and made a number of belts for the UFC and boxing as well. Virtually all the iconic title belt designs in WWF and WCW were handcrafted by Parks.
He was a native of Edmonton and started wrestling for Stu Hart at the age of 20 in 1955. He went all over the world during a full-time career that went until 1982, and he still was used as enhancement talent for WWE through 1986.
He worked everywhere, touring a number of territories every year, although he did base in the AWA from 1963 to 1973, mostly wrestling in prelim matches.
For decades, Parks was the go-to guy when it came to making championship belts. At times, because of his rock-hard abs, he would do the cast-iron stomach gimmick where he’d let heels punch him in the stomach, he’d flex his abs and not sell, a gimmick made more famous by Pepper Gomez.
Parks ended up retiring and living in Arizona, where he ran both a carpet cleaning business and his belt manufacturing business.
His most successful territory would have been the Omaha territory, running in Nebraska and Iowa. From 1965 until the territory closed in 1973, Parks held the Tag Team title nine times, with partners Danny Hodge, Tim Woods, Doug Gilbert (twice), Woody Farmer, and Stan Pulaski (four times).
In 1977, Parks briefly held the International Heavyweight title in the Amarillo territory, winning it from Johnny Weaver and losing it to Ciclon Negro.
With his touring, Parks likely worked with almost every name wrestler in the United States and Canada of the 50s, 60s, 70, and early 80s at one time or another. His most frequent opponents were major stars, like Larry Hennig, Art Nelson, Harley Race, Mad Dog Vachon, Rip Hawk & Swede Hanson, Ric Flair, The Spoiler, Bob Orton Sr., Dusty Rhodes, and The Assassin.
Parks’ first taste of major championship stardom came in San Francisco in 1961 when he teamed with Enrique Torres to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship from Magnificent Maurice & Big Ed Miller.