The NWA's First Large World Heavyweight Championship Belt

From 1948 to 1959 the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt was little more than a “belt buckle.” Up until 1959 belts for all championships were small and inconspicuous in comparison to the later models.

In the photos below former champs Lou Thesz and Whipper Watson wearing the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt that was in use for over a decade after the formation of the National Wrestling Alliance.

The “era” of the large style World Championship belt started with the reign of Pat O’Connor. Pictured below are the six NWA World Heavyweight Champions who wore that belt from 1959 to 1973.

1959-1961: PAT O’CONNOR
1963-1966: LOU THESZ
1966-1969: GENE KINISKI
1969-1973: DORY FUNK, JR.
1973-1973: HARLEY RACE (for 54 days before the new belt was introduced)

From my collection: