Ken Martin wrestled varsity for four years under Coach Jim Douglas at Coleman High School, Coleman, Wisconsin. He had a career record of 75-10, placing 4th in the state tournament in 1965 and 1966, losing both years to Mike Medchills. His team won the Wisconsin State Championship during his freshman (1964) and junior (1966) years. Ken graduated in 1967.
Ken wrestled 4 years on the varsity team for Coach Jim Koch at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, Wisconsin from 1971 through 1974. In that span he established the most impressive record ever by a Wisconsin NAIA wrestler.
As a freshman, he placed 2nd in the NAIA National Championships at 134 pounds and was voted the NAIA Wisconsin Wrestler of the Year over such notables as John Peterson and Dale Evans.
In Ken's sophomore year he placed 3rd in the NAIA Championships at 134 pounds. His semi-final loss was perhaps the most controversial match in NAIA history. A rematch was wrestled 3 hours after the original match when it was determined that the scorekeeper had failed to record a 2 point near fall for Martin, causing him to lose by one point. His semi-final opponent went on to capture the championship, and Martin took 3rd by defeating Dale Evans of the University of Wisconsin-Superior 19-4.
In Ken's junior year, he breezed through the NAIA Tournament to win the championship at 134 pounds. His five victories were won by a combined score of 66-18. He was again selected as the NAIA Wisconsin Wrestler of the Year.
In Ken's senior year, he moved up to the 142 pound class for the National Tournament. The move pitted him against the defending 142 pound champion, Kit Shaw, from Central Washington in the finals. The resulting match was one of the most exciting in NAIA history, with Shaw winning a 6-6 (2-2) split referee's decision in overtime. The match set off a several minute standing ovation for both wrestlers at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls field house. Shaw was voted the outstanding wrestler in the National Tournament. Martin settled for his second runner-up position.
In Ken's 4 year career at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, he established an 87-8-2 record. None of his losses were to a Wisconsin collegiate wrestler, and all but one were to an NCAA or NAIA All-American. He is the only Wisconsin NAIA wrestler to ever place in the top 3 at the NAIA Tournament all 4 years. Ken was nominated most valuable wrestler all 4 years at Parkside and captain 3 years.
Ken spent the next 3 years as the Assistant Wrestling Coach at the University of Wisconsin - Parkside and remained active as a competitor. Largely through Ken's efforts as a wrestler and assistant coach, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside has developed into one of the top NAIA wrestling schools in the United States. Ken's first year at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside was only the second year of existence for the new school. In his 7 years with the team, Parkside had a higher average finish in the NAIA Tournament and more individual national champions than any other NAIA school, except for 4-time National Champion Adams State.
Ken placed twice in the Midland Tournament and won several other tournaments. One of his finest matches was a 7-3 victory over Larry Morgan, a World Games Medallist,
After wrestling and coaching at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Ken spent the next 4 years as head wrestling coach at Cody High School in Cody, Wyoming. Here he established one of the better programs in the state of Wyoming. Several of the wrestlers were state place winners and several grade school wrestlers were place winners at the state and national level.
During the 1981-82 school year, Ken was hired as the head wrestling coach at Bemidji State University while working on his masters degree in physical education. His team finished 3rd in the Northern Inter-Collegiate Conference. He was selected along with Joe Seay from California State-Bakersfield and Mike Denney of the University of Nebraska-Omaha to headline the NCAA II National Coaching Clinic.
In 1980, Ken was selected as one of six charter members to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Athletic Hall of Fame and in 1981, was selected by the NAIA Wrestling Coaches Association to be a member of the NAIA Wrestling Hall of Fame.