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Marti Belle drops an elbow on Alzheimer’s



Just over a year ago, I penned an article about the career of the dynamic Dominican athlete, Marti Belle, who personified the ideology of the American dream. Details of the first-generation American’s journey from the “wrestling club” she formed with her cousins as they watched all the wrestling they could during her youth in New York city to her eventual debut on national television gave readers an insight into how determined she was to succeed.

However, what was the foundation behind that motivation?

Long before Marti Belle grappled as apart of the trio of the Doll House or impressed a worldwide audience on the WWE network, Martibel Payano was a seven-year old little girl who arrived back in America to live with her grandmother after spending the majority of her childhood in the Dominican Republic with her family. Martina Sanchez, affectionately known as “Abuelita,” ventured from her native country to the United States in hopes of providing future generations of her family with more opportunities. A resident for over 50 years, Abuelita Martina was always thoughtful of the well-being of others, which is why her time as an employee at a senior center for several years after she arrived in New York suited her perfectly.

When Marti arrived to live with her grandma in 1996, her Abuelita didn’t realize just how important her generosity would be just two decades later. The enthusiastic wrestling fan eventually found the world-famous Gleason’s gym and learned the craft of professional wrestling, a series of events that led to traveling many places to perform, but the basis for that was the home that Ms. Sanchez provided.

After a successful year and a half on the Total Nonstop Action roster, Belle was allowed to mutually depart from the company to seek greater opportunity, which she found shortly afterwards with Kansas City’s National Wrasslin’ League in late 2016. Aside from running events in various areas of Missouri, an area known for its history, NWL takes a modern approach to the business. Launched earlier this year, the organization is already featured on television in four local markets and provides a promising platform for talent. Full-time NWL employees are put on a salary and offered health benefits. The beautiful and articulate Marti Belle was contracted as the host of NWL events and social media, but still grapples in the ring. The exposure to the non-wrestling aspect of the industry was a valuable experience for her.

“I began working for the NWL in December, and it has been an amazing experience. It is the first time in my career, where I can say wrestling is my only job, and how I make a living. Not only am I making a living, but I am doing so with full benefits including health care which is a huge plus. It’s also helped me so much with my career – taking on a backstage role has given me insight on a different part of this business. I feel like my promos and how comfortable I am in any situation in front of the camera has gotten even greater,” she explained.

Unfortunately, around the same time that Marti reached a new level in her profession, Abuelita Martina’s battle with Alzheimer’s neared its end. Always a determined lady, Mrs. Sanchez lived with the disease for over twenty years, working at the senior center for the majority of that time until she retired because of the effects of the disease.

“I lost my grandmother this past December and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to endure. She was an amazing person, who gave her life to make sure I had a great life. I have been able to accomplish a lot of goals this year, which she unfortunately has not been here to see,” Marti said.

As a tribute to Abuelita Martina, Marti sported a ribbon on her gear for her appearance in the Mae Young Classic on the WWE Network. But she also wanted to continue contributions toward Alzheimer’s research and resources. As the sixth leading cause of death in the country, an estimated 5.5 million Americas are living with Alzheimer’s disease. In response, Belle launched an online fundraiser in conjunction with the ALZ walk that will take place this Saturday in Sedalia, MO.

“Last year, I raised over a thousand dollars for the ALZ walk, but this year I set the goal so much higher because I knew that my family, friends and fans would come through. I am doing this to honor her,” Belle said.

As donations have come from wrestlers and fans, Marti is nearing the goal she set, which she is hoping to surpass as donations will be accepted through the month of September. As an added bonus, every donation of at least $10 gains an entry into raffles for various wrestling prize packages that she put together for this campaign.

Martina Sanchez immigrated to the United States over five decades ago to give her family a better life. Considering Marti Belle’s accomplishments on national television and worldwide on the WWE Network, Abuelita was certainly successful. As a tribute to Mrs. Sanchez, Marti is using her platform as an accomplished athlete to contribute to a good cause. As one of the most talented female competitors in the industry today, Marti certainly made Abuelita Martina proud, both for her contributions inside and outside of professional wrestling.

If you would like to contribute to Marti’s fundraiser, you can go here.

You can follow Marti on Twitter @MartiBelle.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta

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