Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Listen to the obituaries for Haystacks:
Inside Giant Haystacks was hidden a little sheaf of gold, but he was to make his name as an entertainer in a field full of corn... His mother was gentle...His size made him miserable as a boy...
...a kind, intelligent, deeply religious man devoted to his wife...
But what did he say?
I’m a total loner. I travel alone, I wrestle alone. I look after myself.
I felt like a conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, able to play on people’s emotions.
His real name was Martin Ruane and he was brought up in Salford. At fourteen a teacher broke a cane across his back and he left school. Three years later he married Rita, a Catholic, like himself. He worked in a woodwork factory and a tyre firm, then became a lorry driver. He was also a doorman in Salford night clubs. One day a friend persuaded him to get into the ring. It was difficult at first but later he caught on: the niche that had been waiting for him all those years years opened up and he took his place. He became an entertainer. He created Haystacks. He broke ten fingers, both kneecaps, both elbows, crushed several ribs, snapped his collarbone and lost all his front teeth. He became a god in India, a cult in Africa an exemplar in Germany. He made money but stayed in B & Bs. He bought an expensive house that he lost on a bad business deal. Then he got cancer. He was fifty two when he died on the verge of a comeback.
They wanted to see this big, bullying, ignorant pig who tormented their heroes get his come-uppance and end up on his arse.
He refused to fight on Sundays. An honorary citizen of Zimbabwe. Paul Mc Cartney, Frank Sinatra and Evander Holyfield adored him. When he was down on his luck he ran a debt-collection agency.
It was a good life.
He earned about sixty quid a week, went into car dealing and debt collecting. His voice almost inaudible in the baby sized hospital.