Lesra Martin was born into a troubled family in 1963. Although his family was middle class, his parents' drinking problems and misfortunes made them move from a comfortable home in Queens, to the violent streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick.
Martin started to work when he was ten years old to help provide for his family. Consequently, despite his regular school attendance, he remained illiterate until he was sixteen years old.
His life changed course when a group of Canadian entrepreneurs offered to help with his education in Canada after realizing his potential. He graduated high school in Ontario and received a BA (Honours) in Anthropology from the University of Toronto. He went on to obtain a law degree from Dalhousie University. He was briefly enrolled in the doctoral program in Sociology at the University of Toronto, but left that program due to its rigorous nature. After campaigning for admittance into many of the top law programs in Canada (including the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall (York University)), he was admitted to and joined the law program at Dalhousie University. Since then, he has practiced law as a prosecutor in Kamloops, British Columbia. Currently, he continues to practice law in Kamloops, as a civil lawyer, specializing in personal injury.
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter
Martin is notable for his involvement in the release of former boxer, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in 1985 after serving 22 years in prison. His involvement began after he read Carter's autobiography The Sixteenth Round. Martin wrote to Carter, in prison, in 1980 and met with him at the prison where he was incarcerated in Trenton, New Jersey. This contact resulted in the involvement of the group that Martin lived with in Toronto, in the pursuit of Carter's release. Although Carter was convicted at a retrial in 1982 and lost his appeals from that further conviction, a further proceeding was commenced in February 1983 which resulted in his release. The story of Carter's release including Martin's involvement, is portrayed in the film The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington although extensive portions of the account are fictionalized.
Martin has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live on CNN, and has been the subject of a National Film Board production, The Journey of Lesra Martin, which tells the story of Lesra Martin's life.
- Soundprint.org - The Homeboy and the Hurricane Retrieved December 2, 2006.
- Vancouver Courier, 'Film focuses on man who helped free Hurricane', August 24, 2004 Retrieved December 2, 2006.
- Lesra Martin web site
- The Journey of Lesra Martin at NFB, 2002
- Movie Details, The Journey of Lesra Martin, The New York Times
- Internet Movie Database, The Journey of Lesra Martin