St Valentine was not a saint at all, as such. Rather he was a normal kind of guy, living in the beautiful Italian city of Venice in the 17th century. He was of a noble family, if by noble you mean a family who owned several palaces, were filthy rich and lorded it over everyone they came across, then yes, they were noble.

Valentine’s family were, as most noble families were, in trade because the fleet from this important city would travel the world from the docks on Venice’s fair walls and make their fortune.

Sadly Valentine was not interested in the sea as it gave him dreadful sea sickness and trade as he hated the idea of selling anything. What he did like was wrestling and the only place he could do this were the dark taverns on the edge of the city, far away from his families watching eyes.

He was pretty good at wrestling too. He knew all the moves including the two handed knuckle basher and the kings knight hip crusher. The fights in those days disallowed all face shots so no matter what a battering he got, he could disguise the bruises under his bountiful and rich threads.

One fight he knew something was going wrong. He had used all his moves to good measure including the two mentioned and the legendary Scott thrust but the fighter he was up against, Cool Hand Luciano, just kept taking the pain and looking out to the doorway as though expecting someone. 

BASH! BISH! BOSH! Hit after hit went in on the torso of the slimy fellow only for the solid muscle to swallow it up. Valentine scented trouble ahead and sure enough when a pretty young thing arrived and made her way to the front of the crowd, and there was a crowd this day of 50 or more, Cool Hand suddenly got interested and turned his attention to our hero. The anger and general nastiness in the face of Luciano sent general and absolute fear through to Valentine who saw in a moment that he was about to get pulverised and decided at once that maybe trade was no bad thing after all. It was then that he discovered the new wrestling move that would later transfer to the athletics track – he ran to the edge of the crowd, skipped over the first set of chaps who mouths were open aghast, and then jumped out of the tavern into the open air where he ran like the wind. Yes here the triple jump, as we know it today, was born.

Later that day whilst idly cavorting with his pipe by the sea that very same young lady who he had seen at the fight only hours earlier approached him.

‘Valentine I believe,’ she said in a lovely light voice that almost sounded song like as it caressed our young hero’s ears.

‘At your service madam!’ he declared, jumping up and dropping his pipe into the water.

She walked up to his side, leaned into his neck to sniff that he was indeed of good stock, and he was, fresh leatherwood having only just been applied by his manservant, and then said,

‘Today you saved me form a lifetime of watching the wretched wrestling. I have never been able to escape fierce Cool Hand Luciano’s grasp, but when I saw you do that running followed by the little skip and the huge jump, well I followed your lead and he shouted after me,

‘Never darken my door again! Funny really as only that morning I had stained it black. And so now I am free and all because of you, my St Valentine!’

Valentine, no St Valentine, looked back at those adoring eyes and said,

‘For you madam I would walk a thousand miles, beat a thousand men, steal a thousand pigeons and find a thousand treasures. Will you be mine?’

The lady shook her head up and down vigorously, unable to speak as the nodding took over her.

The legend of Valentine, St Valentine was born that day.