Martin receives BASS Outstanding Achievement Award

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Since 2002, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer has provided the stage for the worldwide authority on bass fishing to present the BASS Outstanding Achievement Award. The crystal-and-gold trophy is awarded based on a member of the bass-fishing community's dedication and excellence in service to the sport.

This year, BASS legend and record holder Roland Martin received the award before thousands of cheering fans prior to the final day's weigh-in at the Classic. He joins Rick Clunn, who earned the first award in 2002, and BASS founder Ray Scott, who was recognized in 2003.

"I'm really overwhelmed to be in the company of Rick Clunn, one of the greatest fishermen and my all-time hero, and Ray Scott, the founder of BASS. I'll tell you what," Martin said, pointing out to the crowd, "I owe it to you and you and you."

The Florida pro has been making history since his first event, over 35 years ago, and continues to wow fans and fellow pros to this day. He is not unaware of the charmed quality of his career, which includes work as a television host and speaking and educational engagements around the world.

"How can this be?" he asked from the weigh-in stage. "It's such a perfect life."

He owns the record for most BASS victories 19 and Angler of the Year titles nine. He has qualified for the Classic 25 times - second only to Clunn's record, 28 - but has not claimed the world championship of fishing. Martin fished 269 BASS events and, at age 64, shows no signs of slowing down.

"I have never met a man that was a credit to the BASS shield more than Roland Martin," said Scott. "He was a life member of BASS right out of the box. Roland is very dedicated to the sport and to BASS."

More than two decades ago, he received his first career achievement award, an induction into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. In recent years he has been inducted into the Pro Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame.

"I'd like to maybe win the Classic," he said, smiling.

Close friend and three-time CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Kevin VanDam has a lot of respect for the living legend.

"Roland has had one of the greatest careers in professional bass fishing," VanDam said. "Nine Angler of the Years is unprecedented. I've never met anyone that burns and has more passion and drive like Roland Martin. He is a competitor and is still doing it. He just burns to win. He's still like a kid about it."

Martin retired in 1992, but made his triumphant return only a year and a half later. He since has broken the $1 million mark in career BASS earnings and still fishes very competitively. He racked up a fourth-place finish in the 2003 Classic and finished second in the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on Table Rock Lake.

BASS Communications Aug. 1, 2004