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Former Wildcat cuts through competition

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By Greg Woods

 sports@hclocal.com

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Former Henry County Wildcat football player Chris Berry has made a name for himself recently in a very different sport. Berry, a 1998 graduate of Henry County High School, has become a social media sensation because of his skills with a knife as witnessed by over 150 million hits on YouTube. 

Berry has taken a long and winding path from offensive lineman on a Wildcat team that won six games his senior season to one of the top blade sport competitors in the country. Berry’s most recent claim to fame was appearing on the History Channel show “Forged in Fire: Knife or Death.”

On that show, blade sport competitors used knives they either made themselves or had custom made to slice through everything from ropes to ice blocks to large fish. The competitor that went through the course the fastest and with the fewest penalties won the competition and moved on to the season finale to try to become the overall champion. Berry made the finals on the episode he appeared on but was defeated narrowly.

After high school Berry tried his hand at different things from land surveyor to engineering student at the University of Louisville Speed School. He eventually began to work for United Parcel Service (UPS) and decided that engineering school was not for him.

“I got several promotions at UPS and was doing well and I decided to quit U of L,” Berry said. “After two years I lost interest. I met my wife Robyn at UPS.”

Berry and Robyn married and he decided to go to Jefferson Community and Technical College to become a tool and dye machinist.

After graduation from JCTC, Berry landed a job in Jeffersontown with a company called SixSigma.

“That job allowed me to travel all over the U.S. and Canada installing and repairing our various machines that we built,” Berry said.

Chris and Robyn also began a family that led to a fateful decision.

“After our second child, Jamison, was born, we decided that the cost of day care was just too much and I decided to become a stay at home dad who made a few knives on the side.”

Berry converted his garage at his home in Jeffersontown into a workshop to make knives and settled into a new routine. He takes care of the couple’s four children, Ashlyn, Jamison, Bennett and Elliott while Robyn works for Jefferson County Public Schools.

 “Making a few knives turned into a business that I almost cannot handle on my own,” Berry said. “I have no vendors. All my sales are through social media – Instagram and Facebook. All you have to do is search for Big Chris Custom Knives.”

Berry said that collectors can be obsessive and will pay big money for the right kind of knife.

Berry’s knife-making business led him to blade sports and the fame he has garnered from his YouTube video and his appearance on “Knife or Death” has only helped his business.

“I took six knives to a blade show this weekend and I ended up selling all six, which kind of shocked me,” Berry said. “That has never happened before.”

As for his blade sports career, Berry has risen quickly in the ranks of competitors. He competes on the Blade Sports International circuit and has won a regional competition as well as placing second and third a couple of times in just 1.5 years of competing.

“I had known about blade sports for six or seven years and it was only a question of finding the time and being able to afford it,” Berry said. “Another competitor was in town and came by and talked to me. He kind of gave me the final nudge to take the leap. That was December of 2016. My first competition was in January of 2017.”

Berry said his size helps but technique is important too.

“There is a huge learning curve at first,” Berry said. “My size definitely helps me but there are smaller guys who can be effective cutters because of good technique.”

Berry has traveled to competitions in Maryland, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Tennessee.

“Some of the objects we cut include two-by-fours, golf balls, tennis balls, heavy-walled shipping tubes, ropes of various sizes and water bottles,” Berry said. “In competition we cut these items on a course and it’s based on time and points.”

But the “Knife or Death” competition was much different, according to Berry.

“That was so amazing just because we got to cut different things that we would never be able to afford without a television show budget,” Berry said. “For instance the huge fish we cut were swimming in the ocean the day before. I was told that each competitor cut through about $2,000 worth of stuff.”

Berry said the competition was very close between himself and fellow cutter Dwayne Unger, whom he had competed against several times and always beaten.

One of the things they had to cut were watermelons falling from tubes about ten feet in the air. 

“Our times were very close but I lost on penalties,” Berry said. “Who knew falling watermelons would be so hard to cut.”

Berry does not yet forge his knives from scratch but uses prefabricated sheets of steel to create knives that can be used in competition cutting or are made for collectors.

While Berry said he makes good money on the knives he sells, most of that money is plowed back into the business. He recently bought a forge and intends to learn how to make blades from scratch like the competitors on the History Channel’s show “Forged in Fire.”

Berry said that Henry County was still a huge part of him despite the fact that he has lived in the Louisville area for most of his adult life.

“I would move to Henry County tomorrow if I could,” Berry said. “I would give anything to live the farm life again. Living in the city is convenient but the small community is still in my heart.”

To see Berry’s viral video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUB7Yc2ppNo.