Former Stamp kicks off career in Las Vegas

BILLY POWERS

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

You, as a Stampeders fan, likely knew him as a better-than-average punter, under the coaching of Wally Buono who put up with this "wild man" for years.

I, too, knew Tony Martino as that guy, knowing he had some evil ways about him in the department of practical jokes, but we actually became good friends and even went on a golf trip once.

Martino is no longer a true Calgarian but instead a transplanted Canadian and a big-time American businessman-to-be.

With the Stamps on a bye week, I took advantage and whisked my wife Donna Lee off to Las Vegas, the city of never-ending gambling, cheap beer, bright lights, endless quality and not-so quality entertainment, no winning and the centre of the tattoo world.

Martino is now a resident of Sin City and has hooked up with former Calgary real estate salesman Bart Maybie. I knew that before we left, but had no idea of the magnitude of the venture they share.

At this stage, Martino, who played nine seasons with the Red and White, is a consultant but is working toward getting the papers to be a partner in a furniture liquidation business that simply boggles the mind. What they do is take used beds, tables, lamps, mirrors and even art from top-cabin hotels like The Wynn, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island and the Mirage and resell them at what I can assure you are bargain basement prices.

But even if you sell low, you're making a profit if you buy lower.

IMPRESSIVE DIGS

Martino provided a tour of a building they purchased from Steve Wynn, maybe the most influential individual in the "city that never sleeps." In fact, they're now in Wynn's old office.

What we're talking about is a structure that is 200,000 square feet and, when I was there, housed more than $12 million in stock. During our tour, Martino even took time out to sell 28 rooms of furniture to a couple of guys with a Super Eight Motel in California.

Earlier in the week, he told me, he had supplied almost the same amount of rooms to a man from Thatcher, Texas, which, ironically, is where he played junior college football before going to Kent State.

I should also mention Tony and his bride-to-be, Carla, just bought a property five minutes from The Strip that is half an acre in size, with the main house surrounded by a guest house, pool, jacuzzi and massive driveway that would be worth more than $1 million in our city.

Martino and Maybie now operate the largest furniture liquidation business in a city that has the largest turnover of goods they deal in. The Wynn, for example, only opened two years ago, but today, much of the original furniture is already in other hotels or motels somewhere in the U.S.

BRIGHT FUTURE

As a punter, Martino was good, but I bet he is going to be even better having already sold his house and insurance business in our city.

It seemed like a good experience as I walked back to our hotel only to find a most-distressed Donna Lee.

It seems she wondered what was taking so long, so called Tony's cell phone only to be told, very convincingly I was in jail and needed $5,000 in bail money because I'd punched somebody who had ridiculed my Stampeders ball cap.

Martino said he couldn't help because he had a flight back to Calgary. She called the Las Vegas city jail, the jail in Clark County and even the jail in nearby Henderson.

When I walked through the door, she was on a call to Calgary trying to figure out how to raise the five grand.

Martino pulled off another of his practical jokes, much to her disapproval.


Videos

Photos