Born in Camberwell, London, to Irish parents in 1948 Martin Ruane – better known in the UK at least as Giant Haystacks – was a professional wrestler known for his huge height (6’11”) and enormous weight – 48 stone at his heaviest.
He also, in 1983, released this slice of hokum – his one and only single Baby I Need You. Supplied once again by Mick Dillingham, I haven’t bothered to include the b-side of this particular audio catastrophe as it was just an instrumental version – the same track without the vocal.
Martin was a big baby, weighing 14 lb 6 oz at birth. Although born in Camberwell by the age of three his family decided to up sticks and relocated to Salford, Greater Manchester, a city which would remain home for the rest of his life. As a young man he worked as a labourer and as a nightclub bouncer before, in 1967, embarking on a career in professional wrestling. Beginning with the stage name Luke McMasters, by the early 1970s he adopted the name Giant Haystacks, after the American wrestling star Haystacks Calhoun.
In 1975 Martin, or Giant if you prefer, joined forces with fellow wrestler Big Daddy (who, rather splendidly, had been christened by his parents Shirley Crabtree) and the pair worked as heels (a wrestling term for bad guys), gaining notoriety on TV for the brutality of their act (don’t for one second think that professional wrestling was anything more than choreographed, calculated entertainment). Dressed in his trademark caveman outfit, Martin reputedly ate three pounds of bacon and a dozen eggs every morning to maintain his strength.
Giant Haystacks was the man that everyone loved to hate but, according to those who knew him, Martin was a sensitive, intelligent and deeply religious man devoted to family. Earlier in his life he had ambitions to be a musician but his inability to master an instrument because of his huge hands put paid to this. As many as 16 million viewers would tune in to ITV's World of Sport on a Saturday afternoon to watch him wrestle. Fame for the pair was assured but in 1977 Big Daddy decided to change his act, became a hero (also known as a blue-eye or, in America especially, face) and they dissolved their tag team partnership, becoming sworn enemies – in the ring at least – until Big Daddy retired in 1993.
In 1996, at the age of 48, Martin began wrestling in the United States under the ring name Loch Ness and fought with Hulk Hogan. However ant chance of his finding fame in the States was cut short when he was diagnosed with cancer. He returned home to Salford, where he died in 1998.