12 days of Christmas Chaos (Day Two: A gift as good as gold)
Produced by Dave Millican and Dick Bourne, Ten Pounds of Gold is a gorgeous 80-page historical record of wrestling’s greatest title belt. In addition to close-up, beautiful photos take by Millican and Bourne, who had a unique opportunity to spend an afternoon with the Domed Globe, the book features rare pics provided by eight-time NWA titlist Race and his wife BJ that show the champ receiving the new gold belt from NWA president Sam Muchnick on July 20, 1973, in Houston. Race, of course, went on to drop his new trophy to challenger Brisco that same night. Also included are brief profiles of the eight men who wore the championship: Race, Brisco, Shohei “Giant” Baba, Funk, Dusty Rhodes, Tommy Rich, Flair and Von Erich. (Nope, no profile of Jack Veneno.)
Most fascinating are the details of the belt’s construction and subtle changes over the years. For example, the wide-cut leather strap on the belt was originally encased in red velvet. For years, I was under the impression that Race had been presented with a black-leather strap that night in Houston, as most of the photos I’d seen were in black-and-white. About seven years ago, I saw color pictures of Brisco defending the title against Baba in Japan and was surprised to see the red belt. While the red velvet looked nice and rather regal, it wasn’t durable for the long haul and sweat stains began to tarnish its appearance. Brisco had the belt re-leathered with a brand-new black-leather strap, with a tighter cut around the buckle—which, in my opinion, enhanced the appearance of the NWA belt. Another interesting tidbit is that shortly after winning the belt, Brisco was honored with a nameplate under the word “WRESTLING” on the buckle, similar to the nameplate on the Big Gold strap made famous by Flair years later. The first nameplate read “Jack Brisco,” while the second version simply read “BRISCO” in all caps. When Funk won the title, the intended “tradition” was disregarded. Even Race was unaware of this aspect of the belt’s past.
The Ten Pounds of Gold is a unique history lesson. For more on the project, click here. Better yet, delight the belt mark on your list by picking up a copy of the book here. (The price tag–$39.99–might seem steep to some, but I can assure you that this is a true labor of love by Millican and Bourne. You won’t be disappointed.)