Martin Austin Ruane (10 October 1946 - 29 November 1998) was an English professional wrestler. Best known by his ring name, Giant Haystacks, he wrestled in Canada, India, Rhodesia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Ruane was known for his massive physical size, billed as standing 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) tall and weighing (670 lb; 300 kg) at his heaviest.
Martin Ruane was born in London, England weighing 14 lb 6 oz. His parents were originally from County Mayo in Ireland. When he was 3, in 1949, Ruane and his family moved north from London to Swinton in Salford, which remained his home. He worked as a labourer and as a nightclub bouncer before a friend suggested he take up professional wrestling as a career.
Ruane began wrestling in 1967, initially for the independent WFGB as Luke McMasters (later incorrectly reported as being his legal name). In the early 1970s, Ruane worked for Wrestling Enterprises (of Birkenhead), where he was billed as Haystacks Calhoun, after the American wrestling star William Calhoun who had wrestled under that name in NWA: All-Star Wrestling and the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Ruane's name was subsequently modified to Giant Haystacks.
In 1975, he moved to Joint Promotions, where he formed a heel (villain characters) tag team with Big Daddy (also a heel at this point). Haystacks' TV debut came in July that year, when he and Daddy teamed up against the brothers Roy and Tony StClair, losing by disqualification. Although mainly known as brutal superheavyweight heels who crushed blue-eye opponents, they also had a major feud with masked fellow heel Kendo Nagasaki.
Daddy in particular heard cheers during this feud and eventually completed a turn to blue eye. This was cemented when Haystacks and Daddy broke up their tag team in 1977 and feuded with each other, with Haystacks remaining as the heel, resulting in high ratings on Britain's ITV any time they battled one another and establishing Haystacks as a household name during the 1970s and 1980s. The feud would continue on and off until Daddy's retirement in 1993.
Throughout Haystacks' homeland success he also wrestled all over the world. Ruane wrestled in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling promotion as The Loch Ness Monster, managed by J.R. Foley from Wigan, England (alias John Foley, alumnus of Billy Riley's Wigan Snakepit wrestling school). He also regularly worked for the CWA in Germany and Austria, winning several trophy tournaments over there.
In 1996, Ruane debuted in the United States for World Championship Wrestling, under the ring name Loch Ness. He served as a member of the Dungeon of Doom and feuded with Hulk Hogan. However, the feud was short-lived, ending abruptly when Ruane was diagnosed with cancer and returned to England.
Life outside wrestling
Ruane was a devout Christian and refused to wrestle on Sundays.
Ruane appeared in the 1981 movie Quest for Fire' and the 1984 movie Give My Regards to Broad Street, written by Paul McCartney, who, according to Haystacks, was a fan.
Martin Ruane invested, unsuccessfully, in the motor trade and ran, more successfully, a debt collection agency. He died of cancer on 29 November 1998 at the age of 52.
In popular culture
- A play by Brian Mitchell and Joseph Nixon, Big Daddy vs Giant Haystacks was performed at the Brighton Festival Fringe in East Sussex, England between 26–28 May 2011.
- Welsh rock group the Manic Street Preachers sing "A hundred thousand watch Giant Haystacks in a Bombay fight" in the song "Me and Stephen Hawking," from the album Journal for Plague Lovers (2009).
Championships and accomplishments
British Wrestling Federation
- BWF European Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Worst Wrestler (1996)