M: Caswell Martin

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Cawell Martin

Cast-iron Caswell turned professional in 1970. We were told he was born in Antigua, and we have no reason to argue, setting foot on British soil when he was eight years old.  An interest in physical culture led to an interest in wrestling, an accomplished amateur career and then in to the professional ring. Springboard for the professional debut was winning the light heavyweight free style British Wrestling Association championship in 1969, beating Ron Grinstead in the final. Such amateur credentials are often spurious, but not in this case, there it is in the B.W.A. records.

Cas, as he was commonly known,  immediately struck us with his agility and La Savate k.o. kick, and prospects looked bright of a new black star amidst his ageing peers.  Wrestling fans were tiring of predictable McManus wins and a Kwango past his sell by date. There was an opening for a class act that could capture the public's imagination.

But Cas seemed to get stuck in a rut somewhere down the line in spite of his athleticism, still going down rather unbelievably to a limited Steve Logan in 1974, and surprisingly even for the commentator against Tom Tyrone.  Whether this stifled potential was his own choice we will never know .... probably.  He certainly looked capable of taking on and beating any of the top heavyweights who were around when he was.

Then there was a Royal Albert Hall debut. Another spring board opportunity lost as Dale Martin put him in with local mid heavyweight champion Mike Marino. It could well have been described as lambs to slaughter had it not been for Caswell's skill. Nevertheless, a missed opportunity of providing a logical step up the ladder rung to success.

This impression is confirmed by a far higher success rate in the principal German tournaments in the mid-seventies where he featured as one of the highest ranked foreign stars, outstripping many who enjoyed more clout in the UK.  In Austria too he was winner of the 1976 Viennese All Nations Trophy, entertaining huge crowds over 40 nights.  Caswell returned to Vienna to prove victory was no fluke by completing the double in 1977.

Promoters uncertainty as to how to capitalise on this great talent can be demonstrated through his near fifty television appearances. Fifty outings showed they valued him, but there was no pattern or consistency to his professional development. A tv debut against southern England heavyweight champion Judo Al Hayes was a clearly impossible task for a novice. They brought him back to shine against Ivan Penzecoff and then threw him to the lions again, well top heavyweight Steve Veidor to be precise. And so the pattern continued for the next seventeen years: Kevin Conneelly, Butts Giraud, Bob Abbots, Mike Marino. In 1983 finally a win over Steve Logan, then that loss to Tom Tyrone.  

When tv wrestling ended in 1988 the final main event was between Pat Roach and Caswell Martin. Now if these two had typified wrestling in the 1980s we might still have been watching today.

If you're reading this Cas, do get in touch.

Page added 23/10/2021