From Belt “Mark” to Belt Maker.
Growing up in St Andrews, Scotland being a fan of Pro Wrestling isn’t exactly common, but from the moment I saw it on TV I was hooked. I cannot remember particularly when I first started watching WWE but I remember being mesmerised by the Superstars I was watching. One thing in particular which always stood out to me was the champions. When they walked out into the arena you knew they were a big deal. The crowds just reacted louder, their energy was seemed more intense and most noticeably around the champions waist was 10lbs of gold and leather!
From an early stage in my love of pro wrestling the Championship belts caught my eye. In particular when the WWF debuted their “Undisputed” belt design that was a point where I became more interested than ever. Maybe it was because this belt was made to represent two titles or something else but something just seemed cool about that. The following years I became more and more interested in the belts (My favourite still being the “3D WWE Big Gold” which debuted the week prior to Wrestlemania XIX) that I started trying to find out how to get my hands on my own belts. A few friends of mine had the old foam/plastic belts, but those never really appealed to me. What I was after was the full size metal replica belts. That was until I saw the price! For a 10 year old at the time that wasn’t exactly in my pocket money budget!
Always being fairly artistic I decided the best way to get a belt of my own would be to simply make my own! Without any better materials coming to mind I decided cardboard was the way to go, I then proceeded to make my first ever belt the “Champion of the Unevurce” belt. As is clear my spelling was almost as bad as my belt making skills! I think after that diabolical attempt I was too disheartened to even try another attempt, that was until John Cena debuted his United States Spinning belt, followed by the WWE Spinning belt (I was young and thought they were cool). After seeing those two belts I knew I had to have them and again went with cardboard. These two weren’t anything I am proud of either but a definite improvement over my first. After these “successful” attempts I decided I wanted to do better, I wanted to have exactly what the champions wore. What followed weren’t exactly what I saw on TV but certainly something I am proud of. I started making plates out of plywood and realised I was on to something. Hours upon hours I spent lying on my living room floor carving away at the wood crafting the plates. After that came the straps, originally I used floor linoleum; which my family had kept from out kitchen floor getting replaced a few years prior, and painted them black to represent the leather. After a while this wasn’t meeting my expectations so I started buying “leather look” vinyl and sewed straps together using the linoleum as an insert to the straps rather that the whole of it.
As most could probably imagine, after a few years of this I met the limitations of what could be done with these materials, so I knew I had to take the next step. I began researching leather craft in the spring of 2011 as I was set to finish High School in May of that year (and was planning on starting College or University in September) and basically wanted something to pass the time, so I figured I’ll try some leatherwork. I am happy to say that from the moment I started that I loved it and the results quickly improved! I ended up going to college and left half way through the first day as I was bored and wanted to go home and do some more leatherwork! After a year and a half of basically doing replica releathers for people all over the UK I got that itch again that it just wasn’t enough, and I knew I had to take that step up again which was to make my own belts from scratch.
The process of this was an interested thing to learn, funnily enough my High School Graphic Design education translated perfectly to belt design, which has definitely allowed me to progress quicker than I had expected! Now Almost 10 years after I made my first belt out of cardboard I am very proud to say that I professionally make belts. It’s amazing to be able to do something that I enjoy so much and I thank everyone who has supported me in my progression from those early belts to what I am doing now. I hope I can now grow this business more through the years ahead and who knows some day maybe my work will appear on your TV screens.