The Olympic Games in London may be over for some, but the international games are just beginning for Jersey City native Raymond Martin.
Martin is headed to London to compete in the upcoming Paralympic Games, using many of the same venues and sites that were utilized in the recently completed Olympics.
Martin, a recent graduate of County Prep in Jersey City, qualified for the Paralympics by setting a new world record in the 200-meters. He also set a new American record in the 400-meters.
Martin, who was profiled in the Hudson Reporter Newspapers in 2010, when he won several medals at the NJSIAA Track and Field Meet of Champions, despite being confined to a wheelchair.
Martin will be one of 4,200 athletes from 160 countries, competing in 20 different sports, including Martin’s forte, track and field.
Martin will compete for gold in the 200, 400 and 800 meters.
The 18-year-old Martin was recently nominated for the famed ESPY award as “Best Male Athlete with a Disability.” Martin attended the event in Los Angeles with his family.
Martin’s journey to London was sponsored by the Hudson County Schools of Technology Foundation, a non-profit organization that benefits students and programs at the HCST.
The trip to the Paralympics and representing the United States fulfills a long-time goal of Martin, who was unable for comment because he was en route to London at press time.
“I wanted to be able to do what other people did in track,” Martin said in a 2010 interview. “Okay, I knew I couldn’t run like everyone else, but I should be able to push my chair fast enough. There was nothing that was going to stop me.”
Martin was born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, a rare form of a congenital myopathy and the most severe form of arthrogryposis.
The disease left Martin without full use of his hands and relegated the teenager to a life in a wheelchair.
“Sometimes, when I was little, I let it bother me,” Martin said in 2010. “But as I got older, I learned to accept it. I just don’t think about it anymore.”
Martin also had to learn how to push the wheelchair, because with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, he had very limited use of his hands.
“That was a problem,” Martin said. “I couldn’t use my hands. I had several surgeries on my hands, but they couldn’t fit in gloves.”
So just to compete, Martin had to have his hands wrapped in two pairs of socks and had the socks taped around his wrists in order to push the wheelchair hard enough to make it move faster.
“Eventually, my hands got bigger and stronger,” Martin said. “It’s tough for me to go up against some athletes who are higher functioning than I am. I’m actually competing with a higher class than me, because of my hands Every day, I’m thankful to get the opportunity to be out there competing. I’m able to go to other countries and I’m still able to compete. I get on my track chair every day and do something. It keeps me going.”
And it kept Martin going all the way to the Paralympics. He’ll compete on the same track where his idol, Usain Bolt, won two Olympic gold medals just last week. Pretty impressive indeed…
Tomasz Adamek, the heavyweight contender who trains regularly in Jersey City, is climbing back into the ring again in a few weeks, less than three months after his last victory.
Adamek, who will turn 36 in December, understands that he cannot be a boxer forever; that the window of opportunity to fight again for the heavyweight championship he lost last September is closing rapidly.
That’s why Adamek doesn’t want to waste time away from the ring. After defeating Eddie Chambers June 16 at the Prudential Center in Newark, Adamek has already booked his next fight, a Sept. 8 showdown with monstrous Travis Walker of Houston.
However, the Adamek-Walker heavyweight showdown and undercard will feature something different. It will be held in the afternoon in order so that the fight can be televised live via pay-per-view back to Adamek’s native Poland.
The card will begin at 2 p.m. with the Adamek-Walker fight slated to begin around 5 p.m.
“It’s 5 p.m. here, but it’s 11 p.m. in Poland,” Adamek explained at a pre-fight press conference recently at the Prudential Center. “Usually, the people in Poland have to get up at 4:30-5 o’clock in the morning to see me fight here. This is good for us.”
Adamek’s immense popularity in his native land has caused the promoters to push the card in the afternoon.
“They play football in the afternoon and basketball,” said Kathy Duva, the president of Main Events, the primary promoter for the card, along with Ziggy Promotions, headed by Jersey City businessman Ziggy Rozalski. “They play hockey in the afternoon. Back in the day, there were all televised boxing shows were in the afternoon. Pay-per-view is the way Tomasz makes his money. By bringing the fight to prime time in Poland, we can get more viewers. It’s ideal for them.”
In fact, plans are already in place to have Adamek’s next fight to take place in December, also in the afternoon. It may cut down on attendance in the Prudential Center, Adamek’s home away from home, but it will lead to more revenue in Poland.
“We just have to make sure to get the message out that it’s in the afternoon,” Duva said. “That’s the challenge.”
Adamek, now 46-2 with 28 knockouts in his professional career, has won his last two fights after losing to Vitali Klitschko in Poland for the WBC heavyweight title last September, defeating Nagy Aguilera in March and Chambers in June.
He was asked if he needed more time off after his last fight.
“No, I move quickly,” Adamek said. “I can’t stay home. I have nothing to do there. I want to be in the ring.”
Adamek has no qualms facing a much larger opponent. The 33-year-old Walker, who has a 39-7-1 career mark with 31 knockouts, stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 245 pounds.
“I’m getting a chance to fight Travis,” Adamek said. “He’s a tough fighter and he wants to fight. It’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for a good fight.”…
The high school football season is rapidly approaching, so we will begin our extensive previews of the local grid teams beginning next week. It’s a comprehensive look at the area’s top teams, complete with names, heights and weights and statistics. It’s the perfect preseason guide as the season kicks off officially Sept. 7…--Jim Hague.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.