John Martinez, Alligator Wrestler on Gator Boys, Dies at Age 30

Categories: Animal Planet

j_mart.jpeg
Courtesy of Susan Allen
Alligator wrestler John Carlos Martinez, a lifelong animal lover, a Marine, and a character on the reality show Gator Boys, died on September 3, New Times has learned. He was 30 years old.

The show focuses on "the only bare-hand nuisance animal trapping company in Florida" -- guys who trap gators with their bare hands and relocate them, typically at Everglades Holiday Park. Martinez, who went by the nickname J-Mart, made his first appearance on the show feeding Cheetos to an alligator.

Martinez's mother, Susan Allen, said that he grew up and went to school in Kissimmee and that his father's family was from Clewiston.

"From the day John was born, he loved animals," Allen said. "He always had some type of animal in his hand, and he was tenderhearted with them. We always lived on acreage, and since he was about 3, I'd always have to stop him at the back door when he was coming inside from playing and make him empty his pockets. He'd say, 'I don't have anything!' But he'd finally empty them and there would be a frog, a lizard, some sticks, some rocks, some roly-polies. He just wanted to take them inside so he could sleep with them."

Allen said that Martinez was never without a dog as a pet and that the family raised deer, which he bottle-fed. "He was just a natural with animals -- a very, very tenderhearted, sweet young man." Allen also recalled him reading Bible verses to his grandfather.

He loved Lion Country Safari, kept pet snakes, and "when we went fishing, he could see a gator a mile away."

After serving as an infantryman in the Marines, Martinez gravitated to South Florida, settling in Hollywood so he could be near the Everglades -- "the raccoons, the snakes, and everything," his mom says. Allen says he worked at Billie Swamp Safari and volunteered at Native Village and "bugged the heck out of" the gator wrestlers until they taught him how to work with the animals too.

Martinez became a regular entertainer at Everglades Holiday Park. Blogger Deb Neumann caught his show in February. She described how he tamed gators by imitating a baby gator sound and held the jaws of a gator shut using only his chin. She described his role on the show as "one of those colorful characters who add fun and interest to a show."

An online obituary mentioned nothing about the TV show.

Allen says, "I just didn't mention it because he was just John to me. I never associated him with the show. I was more proud of him as the type of person he was inside. He was just my baby." She says she watched and enjoyed the show, though. She did not want to talk about how her son died.

A representative at Everglades Holiday Park confirmed the death and said it did not happen at the park but declined to offer further details. Mike Mathis Productions, which produces the show, declined comment and referred calls to Animal Planet. Two spokespeople did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

Gator Boys star Andy Riffle tweeted:



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20 comments
francesjordan120
francesjordan120

J-Mart.thank you for your service for the gator boys the team will miss u . i just learn about your pass just on. R.I.P your big fan Cindy. in Va. Paul and Jimmy and all the team i am so sorry about John Martinez.i am still y'all biggest fan i love watching the gator boys. thanks for all y'all do to save the gators. i would love to meet all of y'all can y'all come to Danville Va so i see y'all and meet the gator boys and the girls it would make my day.... from your fan Cindy Jordan.Va

minibux
minibux

Didn't you learn that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all? To those two of you who only had negative things to say about a young marine who lost his life, you should be ashamed of yourselves! He served his country and only wanted to help animals. Sure, his character portrayed him as a jokster. Didn't that make him more lovable? I did not have the fortune of knowing him, but am deeply saddened to learn of his passing. I wish that the show would have done a small tribute in his memory. RIP J-Mart. May your family and loved ones learn to live without your smile and presence. You will be missed by more people than you ever knew.

welakawombat
welakawombat

Meh.. didn't even know he was dead.  Didn't miss him on the show either.

wesopaul
wesopaul

J-Mart,

Thank you for your service to this great country, and Thanks for the many laughs on Gator Boys, Semper Fi Brother, see you at the gates, PEACE , ..."a fellow Marine"

cheekys00
cheekys00

To the martinez family, my sympathies go out to you. I can not imagine the pain and sorrow for you.


As for the public, and gator boys fans (myself included) its fishy that no official death has been declared. And NO IT IS NOT A PRIVATE matter. COD's are made public immediately. Seems drug related.

pcimmarusti
pcimmarusti

My deepest sympathies to JMart's family, friends & Gator Boys.  I was shocked to hear of his passing on the latest Gator Boys show.  He was a funny different guy on the show, but was always there when Paul & Jimmy needed him.  He will be missed.

lanceanne2
lanceanne2

Pretty sad. My two younger daughter look up to all of the Gator Boys and the volunteer work they do to trap yet keep these gators safe. Both my daughters are sad tonight. May God be with the Martinez family. WE ALL WILL MEET AGAIN.

studio305
studio305

So sorry to hear of John's passing. You could see the passion he had for animals. He was a real entertainer. Our prayers go out to his friends and family. He will be missed.


downyridge
downyridge

This is just to hard to believe,Gonna miss this guy Sadly,He hadto be my favorite on the show RIP JMart

kcguitarplayer
kcguitarplayer

Paul & J Mart as we knew him made the show. I'm not sure if Gator Boy's realized just what an impact this guy made on screen. For me he was just one of those people who kept your attention. The show will not be as interesting as it was , even when he wasn't on there I kept watching to see if maybe he'd show up. I don't know what makes some people more interesting than others but he was. Too damn bad.

lindabacknrkfrd
lindabacknrkfrd

I am so sad to hear of this ! Gator Boys lost a great guy ! You'll be missed J-Mart ! <3

bumkin_78
bumkin_78

@cheekys00 How can you give your sympathies and then assume something about someone AND BY THE WAY IT IS PRIVATE and no ones business of how or what caused him to pass away. Let the family be and go on the way the wish to be in PRIVATE!

Dolphinsndogs
Dolphinsndogs

I'm appalled that you would assume its drug related. Good god. Did you know him to even be saying such a thing? It IS a private matter for his family & friends & for you to even suggest that is just sickening. Please let him rest in peace & let his family & friends heal from their loss.

cheekys00
cheekys00

@kcguitarplayer FAIL

J-Mart was the worst "act" on the show. Nothing but an idiot. "MADE THE SHOW?" WRONG

downyridge
downyridge

you sad it all for me too, kc, he will be so missed ,...."mann'

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