22nd. December 1945 - 20th. April 2018
Celebrating his Life...
22nd. December 1945 - 20th. April 2018
Services Saturday 28th. April 2018.
St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church 4625 Springfield Avenue, Philadelphia PA.
Viewing will be held 10am to 11am with Funeral Mass beginning at 11am.
Burial to Follow at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetary in Yeadon PA.
Friends and Family will join for a luncheon following the burial.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to: United Cerebral Palsy of Delaware
(700-A River Road, Wilmington, DE 19809) or Archmere Academy
(3600 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont, DE 19703).
Kevin cared a great deal about both organizations and would appreciate donations
being made to them on his behalf.
Click Here to email pictures, comments, and posts to Wrestlers WithOut Borders (WWB)
Eulogy by Gus Scheerbaum
Good morning, my name is Gus Scheerbaum. I realize some of you knew Kevin better than I, but I am honored to have been invited to speak about Kevin this morning.
As an architect, Kevin Martin had an appreciation for historic precedent. It's indeed fitting that we are gathered this morning in a church whose architecture containing this open expanse and soaring arches, was based on the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul built in the year 537. As a licensed architect, Kevin had a hand in adapting several Philadelphia landmark buildings including Bookbinders, Wanamaker's, and St. Joseph's University. While architecture was Kevin's career, wrestling was his passion.
Many of us knew Kevin as a coach, referee, and athlete. After wrestling at University of Pennsylvania, Kevin served as a coach for several local high schools and was involved with Foxcatcher and Sunkist Kids. Kevin enthusiastically contributed his time and expertise to the Police Athletic League, Wrestlers Without Borders, and the Spartans Wrestling Club. He even recruited his Mom and sister to helping host a wrestling fund-raiser tournament for United Cerebral Palsy of Delaware. Kevin never "threw in the towel" but rather continued to referee and compete nationally, and even on the world stage. He was never a quitter and was in fact wrestling until becoming bedridden when he was at the age of 70. Michael LoFurno and I packed up boxes and boxes of awards, trophies, and medals from his home.
I was reminded then of a handout from Kevin that he used wherever he coached. The "top 10 rules of wrestling mechanics." Two pages actually containing 55 nuggets of wrestling tips, starts with five fundamental rules...
1. whatever you want is the opposite of what your opponent wants
2. where the head goes the body tends to follow
3. 85% of all attacks drive through either the tailbone or the navel
4. always look at the wall while attacking or driving
5. a successful takedown generally requires your ear to be tightly on your opponents hip
I asked some of you for some anecdotes that I might touch on, and while Kevin was a "very annoying wrestler," (this considered a good thing among wrestlers), reoccurring themes that also resonated for me became apparent.
Over the years I knew Kevin, and especially after the second stroke nearly three years ago, Kevin was a role model as I know he had been to countless other men. To me, Kevin was a role model of courage, compassion, and loyalty. Kevin was a humble and unassuming friend who would always follow-up while also possessing extraordinary patience. While challenged like never before over the past few years, Kevin still found it within himself to regularly demonstrate forgiveness and empathy. These were the qualities that allowed him to have a progressive outlook on life and also honor his religious background that were key to his compassion towards others and passion for coaching and advancing the sport of wrestling.
Kevin was an educator. At the end of Kevin's top 10 rules of wrestling mechanics he included a quote from Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain) by Thomas Mann. The quote is from an early 20th century novel that was considered an "educational novel;" a form of literature that was popular in the day. The protagonist, a young engineer, Hans Castorp who encounters a number of characters that convey to Hans wisdom, helps him formulate his outlook on life. In a section about human suffering, Herr Settembrini describes how to systematically address problems in life even as large as human suffering. Kevin quoted, "order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject - the actual enemy is the unknown."
I admit, when I read Kevin's top 10 of wrestling mechanics years ago, I didn't wrap my head around this quotation. But reflecting on it now, the quotation is key in that not only can mastery be achieved by breaking a challenge down into rules of wrestling mechanics, but it also demonstrates how Kevin was coaching so much more than wrestling. Kevin was coaching how to deal with life. Order and simplification - the mastery of a subject - not educating oneself or seeking understanding is the enemy.
Kevin Martin was both a master and an educator. Those who knew Kevin best will miss his habitual tardiness; his ability to see beyond convention; and his quite, wry sense of humor. His devoted sister Nora and the entire wrestling community will miss him.
Notes by Chris Lorefice
I first met Kevin back around 2009 at the San Francisco Golden Gate tournament, he came up to me at practice and worked with me on some moves. I was really impressed with how he took so much time to show me the moves and break them down...as an adult it's hard to start wrestling when you're in your 30s, and what I really needed was someone who could show moves like they were teaching them to a young kid, and that was Kevin, always willing to adjust his teaching style to whomever he was working with.
I continued to see Kevin regularly at WWB tournaments, or when I was on the road and stopping in to practice with Philadelphia or New York. When I spent the summer in Philadelphia in 2012, we spent many an evening at the Philadelphia practice and then at dinner afterwards. Kevin would continue to check in with me on how my wrestling was progressing, and never failed to offer coaching advice on things I needed to work on. I really valued that. He was able to visit my club again back in 2015 and spend a session coaching, and the guys at the club still remember him and ask about him. Even when Kevin had his stroke, he never failed to check with me regularly, and continued to want to know how things were going with me, with my club, and with Gay Games. He even would check in on how things were going with our annual tournament in Las Vegas, which he was able to ref at one time before he had to stop wrestling.
We last spoke a couple of months ago after I sent him a t-shirt from this year's Vegas tournament. I will always remember his dedication and perseverance in the sport, even when it was difficult for him, and how much he contributed to my own development, and WWB's development over the years. On behalf of the So Cal Wrestling Club, and WWB, I will miss him very much.
Notes by Roger Brigham
If nothing else, Kevin was an optimist. How else could he be convinced he could teach me how to throw an effective gut wrench? See, I was a wrestler in high school and college and then a wrestling coach for the next decade or so. But that was in my youth decades ago and I was well into middle age when I had my hips replaced, and then another two years passed before I healed enough to take to the mat again and prove to myself that my Inner Wrestler might be wonder, but he wasn't dead.
Kevin was always a patient and selfless clinician. He was in town visiting us and he was showing everyone how to throw a gut check. It's very much a freestyle move and all of my moves were folkstyle moves, so this was all new territory for me. I knew this was not going to be one of my "go-to" moves, because the surgery had left my hips too weak to be effective with the lift portion, but I wanted to see what I could learn about controlling my opponent's core from the move.
Kevin kept reminding of basic position elements as he took us through the steps - "Keep your eye focused on the wall" - and eventually the move started to gel for me. Everyone else who had ever shown me the move had focused on how to clasp my hands when reaching around my opponent, but I always found no matter what kind of grip I took, the move did not feel right. Kevin pointed out that my opponent may be too fat for me to lock hands and others might be so skinny that locked hands would allow too much wiggle room. He showed us how to lean in and wrap our biceps around the opponent, then swing our hands to lock on the opposite arm wherever our hands landed, whether is was in the other hand or on the forearm - and then squeeze with our elbows. Suddenly I was hitting the move. I tell you, the guy was a genius. I never hit the gut wrench in a match, but the arm mechanics came in handy when I scored all of my points in Gay Games 2006 on bear hugs to win the gold.
As I say, Kevin was pretty selfless when it came to coaching and made many of our club tournaments. One year he emailed me to say he was coming and wanted to know which of a handful of motels near the McArthur BART Station in Oakland I would recommend for him. I went to the website of a local newspaper and called up the current homicide map. Sent him a copy and told him, "That cluster of dots representing homicides is right where all of the motels you asked about are. Come stay with me instead." Kevin was a legend for competing in all sorts of wrestling tournaments as he grew older and older. I regretted I never had the chance to see him compete.
I retired for a year after Chicago just to see if I had the willpower to be around wrestling without competing, because my kidneys were failing and I knew I would soon be on dialysis and could no longer train for matches. After a year I decided I would wrestle only when I felt well, and I actually started to wrestle better. In 2008 Wrestlers WithOut Borders held its first WWB Cup in Chicago, and inducted a large class into its Hall of Merit. I went for the occasion and was so happy that Kevin was there to be inducted alongside me. I didn't expect to win a silver, but at the last minute they called me out of the stands to compete. Went 1 and 1, which was good enough for the silver, and I was getting kudos from a bunch of Russians there for having flawless technique. And a good deal of that credit goes to Kevin - who also wrestled that day, performed magnificently, and won his own silver.
Good guest, good coach, good wrestler, good teacher, good friend. Can't ask for more than that.
Notes by Guy Will
I want people to Know that Kevin was a genuinely good man and an accomplished wrestler and official. He availed himself to those of us that had no training in his sport and was welcoming and helped me to know that I too had a place on the wrestling mat. I doubt I would ever pursue wrestling without the encouragement from guys like Kevin. I am saddened by his loss.
Notes by Gene Dermody
I met Kevin back in 1968 when I was desperately searching for someone like me who was obsessed with wrestling. We found each other in some cryptically coded personal AD in some wrestling magazine, and we exchanged our catholic high school graduation photos. We instantly hit it off because we were both university 'Walk-Ons' in the '60s, he at UPenn, me at NYU. We loved the sport so much we stuck with the often unencouraging and humiliating initiations of 'Walk-On' wrestlers at that level. Although Kevin was a bit older than me, he was only a year ahead of me in college. Kevin flourished at UofPenn and evolved into an elite wrestler, coach, & official.
When I took over the Paramus Catholic program as a rookie in 1971, Kevin was there weekends helping me pull together a reputable team. This continued for years, and I owe him my success not only as coach, but as a person. I took wrestlers to the NJ States only because of his help & expertise. The two exceptional characteristics of Kevin that took me a long time to appreciate and emulate were his quiet fearlessness and calm humility. When I too often doubted my own technical and leadership skills, and wanted to quit, Kevin was always there to calm me down and make me see it through.
1n 1994 with Gay Games IV NYC being held at my Alma Mater NYU, and with the bold Wrestlers WithOut Borders changes to the tournament format, Kevin was the Head Official and mediator who made sure that Ed Lindsay, The Knights, and WWB all agreed. His integrity and respect within the USA Wrestling Officials overcame a lot of the homophobic resistance, and made the tournament a huge success. He also diffused the ridiculous rivalries and animosities amongst the early WWB clubs and leadership. Kevin was an exceptional role model for all of us, and his support for WWB and GayGames wrestling events as an elite technician and an official made it possible for WWB to grow and prosper.
Two of Kevin's humorous sayings that became WWB mantras were : "Don't Break Your Toys' and "All wrestlers put their pants on one leg at a time". He preached very early on to me, even before Tom Waddell, an almost heretical 'success philosophy' of inclusion, participation, and personal best over elitism. He valued the immense political, personal, and social value of achieving critical mass at our events events by making sure we included everyone, not just the 'studs'. He encouraged us to bond and support each other, and of course wrestle. Right up to the very end he was calling me to talk about our recent Las Vegas and San Diego tournaments. and offer suggestions.
Kevin did not consider himself an activist, but he had more of a positive influence on such a large number of us because of his professionalism as a coach and official. We learned leadership and respect from him. Kevin was a real community hero because of the decades of work that had substantive positive consequences: We are his legacy, ALL of Us.