Mortimer ‘Buddy’ Martin


William Robinson Clarke

‘Boxing manager who returned with five young hopefuls’

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A candidate for the title of busiest man on the Empire Windrush must have been Jamaican- born Mortimer ‘Buddy’ Martin. He was a boxing manager returning to England in charge of five youngfightersandacook,alltravellingin Cclass.

However, his wife, Liverpool-born Heather Martin aged 22, and his children, Melville, four, and Heather, three, enjoyed the comfort of first class. Heather was pregnant at the time and the couple’s third child, Paul, was born just a few months after the family arrived back in England.

The son of David B. Martin and Irene Martin, née Blackford, Buddy was born in Port Maria, St Mary, on May 16, 1917. A welder, he originally came to England in February 1941 as one of the first Jamaican technical workers to support Britain’s Second World War effort in the Liverpool shipyards.

Buddy returned to Jamaica with his young family in February 1948. He gave his occupation as a welder but he was going to Jamaica for one purpose only and that was to take to Liverpool the most promising boxers he could find.

He held a series of bouts to identify the boxers with the greatest potential. As a result, he was joined on the return journey by young pugilists Terence Ansel Everal, known as Ted Ansel, John Hazel, Calvin ‘Essie’ Reid, and Vernon Sollas, as well as 50-year-old Martin Barratt, the chef he had recruited.

During the journey, Buddy spotted a young lad called Charles ‘Peppy’ Smith sparring on deck and duly signed him up too. When he disembarked at Tilbury, an awaiting cameraman photographed him with his five young charges.

None of the boxers Buddy selected was particularly successful, but Vernon Sollas’ son, also Vernon, went on to win the British featherweight title in the 1970s.

In the July 15, 1948 edition of The Gleaner, Buddy painted a grim picture of life in England: “I’d like to say as a warning to would- be emigrants to England, you are wasting your time. You are better off in Jamaica take it from me.” He added, however, that the dire warning did not apply to boxers.

Never one to hide his light under a bushel, Buddy also used The Gleaner article to reveal that he had helped arrange the collection of more than £50 to pay the fare of the lone female stowaway Evelyn Wauchope on board the ship.

Buddy was by no means a full-time boxing manager and not much of a home bird. He worked as a welder in Canada for a spell of almost two years in the early 1950s, then emigrated to Ontario in 1966, leaving Heather behind. He died on April 15, 1994, in Miami, Florida, where he had been living since 1984.

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