Reggie Parks (August 27, 1934 – October 7, 2021) was a Canadian professional wrestler and engraver, known for his work designing championship belts for wrestling, mixed martial arts, and boxing promotions. Parks began his wrestling career under the tutelage of trainer Stu Hart, and wrestled throughout the United States, becoming known for his physique and his "Quiet Superman" demeanour, before branching out into belt design. As a designer, Parks's most famous work has been regarded as the "Winged Eagle" belt he created for the then-WWF in the 1980s, and he contributed work to other wrestling promotions, as well as to the UFC and for an album cover by Madonna.
|Born||August 27, 1934|
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
|Died||October 7, 2021 (aged 87)|
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
|Cause of death||COVID-19|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Trained by||Stu Hart|
|Debut||December 26, 1955|
Reggie Parks was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on August 27, 1934. He grew up on a farm outside the city, and played hockey as a youth, abandoning it when his family moved into the city proper. He began weightlifting at age 13, and started working as a ticket usher for professional wrestling shows shortly afterward. He admired the brothers George and Sandy Scott, and Tiny Mills. After retiring from professional wrestling, Parks resided in Arizona, running a carpet cleaning company in addition to his work designing belts; he had been introduced to the carpet-cleaning industry by fellow wrestling personality Gordon Solie.
Parks was married once, and divorced; he lived with his partner Trish for 22 years before her death in 2006. He had no children. Parks died in Tucson, Arizona, on October 7, 2021, from COVID-19. Speaking on his legacy, fellow belt-maker Dave Millican said "[we] all owe Reggie a huge debt of gratitude because nobody did this this way before he did. Were there belts before Reggie? Absolutely. Were there good belts before Reggie? There weren't".
Parks began his career training at a boxing club in Edmonton, where he met Stampede Wrestling promoter Stu Hart in 1955. Hart trained Parks and introduced him to territories in the United States, leading to Parks wrestling in Seattle, Los Angeles, and throughout Texas. Between 1963 and 1973, Parks was based with the American Wrestling Association, also making appearances for territories in Nebraska. Parks became known for his impressive physique and feats of strength, being billed as the "Quiet Superman"; at one point Parks had a Volkswagen Beetle driven over his stomach to prove his strength. At his peak, Park was 6 feet 2 inches (188 cm) tall and weighed 225–230 pounds (102–104 kg), with 17 in (43 cm) biceps and a 50 in (130 cm) chest.
Parks also wrestled under a mask for a time as The Avenger during his later career. While working in Joe Blanchard's Texas territory in 1968, Parks was the opponent for the debut match of future NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Dusty Rhodes. Parks wrestled most of his career as a fan-friendly babyface, crediting his likability to his Canadian upbringing: "It’s just a natural Canadian thing. I was always nice".
Parks was known for designing and engraving championship belts for WWE, the National Wrestling Alliance, World Championship Wrestling, the American Wrestling Association, and Shimmer Women Athletes. WWE described his belt designs as some of its most famous. His most well-known were the "Winged Eagle" belt used to represent the WWF Championship in the 1980s and 1990s and the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship belt from the same era.
Parks began to create belts in 1962 while working in Omaha, Nebraska, after noticing that promoter Joe Dusek had been using a large trophy to represent a championship, which was beginning to fall apart. He made a replacement belt using plated copper and a leather strap, estimating that it cost him around $75. His work was then sought out by other wrestling organizations, as well as appearing in taekwondo and boxing associations, the UFC and on the cover of Madonna's Hard Candy album.
- Oliver, Greg (October 8, 2021). "Reggie Parks, Talented Wrestler, Star Beltmaker, Dies". Slam Wrestling. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
- Oliver, Greg (July 9, 2001). "Reggie Parks: Wrestler to Belt Maker Extraordinaire". Slam Wrestling. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
- Meltzer, Dave (October 8, 2021). "Pro wrestler and legendary belt maker Reggie Parks passes away". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
- Oliver, Greg (October 8, 2021). "Reggie Parks was "King of Belts" for a Reason". Slam Wrestling. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
- Rhodes & Brody 2005, pp. 2–3.
- McGeorge, Alistair (October 8, 2021). "Reggie Parks dead: WWE stars remember iconic belt maker behind Winged Eagle design and Madonna's Hard Candy cover". Metro. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
- "Legendary sports-entertainer and championship title maker Reggie Parks passes away". WWE. October 8, 2021. Retrieved October 8, 2021.