WRESTLING HERITAGE

British wrestling history 

C: Collins - Conroy

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Bob Collins
Malcolm Daintry was born in Southampton in September, 1941. He went on to become a bad boy of the 1970s and 1980s rings, and sometimes referee, of southern England.  Bob Collins was involved in many memorable matches with Tiny Tom Thumb. He worked for both the independent promoters and Joint Promotions.

Danny Collins
Bristol born Danny Collins was a fans favourite from the day he wrestled Adrian  Finch in his  professional debut in 1983, aged just sixteen. Danny’s style was was fast and furious, but he complemented his athleticism and agility with good wrestling skill. Having said that, one of Danny’s backwards somersaults from the top rope, was a site to behold. Danny's breathtaking style in the ring was matched with his meteoric climb to  fame.  National popularity was secured with a television debut in January 1984 when he defeated Peter Kaye. He sensationally returned to television two months later to beat British champion Jim Breaks. Now we were certain there was a new kid on the block. The win over Breaks established Danny as one of our top welterweights, culminating in a win over Jim Breaks at the Royal Albert Hall in march 1984 to snatch the British welterweight title.  He went on to hold the British welterweight title three times, the European welterweight title, the World middleweight title and twice the British heavy-middleweight title. Without doubt one of the late twentieth century’s top wrestlers.

Derek Collins
Like so many Wrestling Heritage readers Derek Collins interest in wrestling began as a ten year old child when he  joined the fans
at Leeds Town Hall. Wrestling wasn't his first sports love. As a schoolboy he was a successful runner, representing Yorkshire Youth. It was whilst running that he took up wrestling in order to keep his weight down!

Derek was an amateur wrestler for nine years at the Hilltop Wrestling Club in Bradford. Derek would go along to the Hilltop when he wasn't  at work down the coal mine, not just earning an honest crust but also building up the strength and stamina necessary for a career in the ring. With a good amateur grounding Derek moved to Ernest Baldwin's Tingley gymnasium in preparation for his professional debut. That moment came in 1962, but Derek's career was soon to be put on hold due to a serious knee injury. After  more than a year out of wrestling Derek returned and  established himself as a popular worker throughout  northern England and  and Scotland, working for all the major promotions.   
Pete Collins (Also known as College Boy)
The younger brother of Danny Collins was not content with living in the shadows of his illustrious brother and chose to develop a style unlike the big brother who brought him into the wrestling business. At times Pete tagged with his brother Danny, but their contrasting styles led to a parting of their ways.   Unlike good guy Danny the younger Peter became “Mr Vain” and upset the fans not only with his rule bending and antics, but also by frequently taunting and arguing with them.  Pete revived a name from wrestling folklore, College Boy.
 
Rocco Colombo
Speedy and acrobatic the high flying Rocco Colombo was known as the Whirling Dervish.In the spring of 1962 he made a two month visit to Britain and impresses those who watched him in action. Rocco was born in . New York and was already well known to wrestling fans throughout North America when he crossed the Atlantic. He was an impressive addition to (usually) southern rings, beating Francis Sullivan at the Royal Albert Hall, Candian Georges Gordienko, and Les Kellett. Not bad for starters. Rocco Colombo passed away in 1964. 

Chris Colt (Also known as The American Dream Machine)
The American Dream, the Promoter's Nightmare. Heritage member Bill Smith remembers the 1980 UK visit of Chris Colt (real name Charles Harris), who came to the UK and wrestled as "The American Dream" and as "The American Dream Machine." Colt was actually a Canadian but much of his career was in the United States, where ee was a member of the "California Hells Angels"Tag Team who were title holders in the USA.

Chris Colt caused a sensation with his tactics inside and outside the ring.  With his multi-coloured tights and elaborate make-up he made a colourful, albeit controversial,  addition to the British wrestling scene. Bill recalls, “He was  a very good worker who was not afraid to take a few 'bumps'. His best match in the UK is reckoned by many people to be the one against Dynamite Kid (Tom Billingham) at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. ” Another Heritage member, Norfolk Snake told us, "Can recall seeing The American Dream at King's Lynn Corn Exchange taking on Kung Fu for Brian Dixon - at the time I had never seen anything like it, the heat, the image and the violence that erupted in and outside the ring; punters included!"

A watershed moment for Colt during his British tour came the night he faced Big Daddy in a tag match for promoter Max Crabtree. That was the night the dream turned to nightmare for Max after allegedly failing to follow  the plan in the high profile  Royal Albert Hall bout in November 1980. Following this match Chris  went to work for Brian Dixon’s All-Star Promotions. Dixon must have thought Christmas had come early as the big name American filled the venues as the man who had to be seen to be believed. 

Controversial maybe, but certainly Chris Colt was an innovator and colourful character who could wrestle.

Dick Conlon
A scowling, tough guy of a wrestler who worked the rings of usually southern England during the 1960s and 1970s. A welterweight from London he was a good worker who failed to make  it into the top notch in those days of immense competition . Not so much a villain,  but the look of a villain who knew how to rile the fans. Probably mostly remembered when he joined forces with Chris Bailey  as  the Artful Dodgers tag team. Whilst in the merchant navy Dick got interested in wrestling after making friends with the professional Bob Taylor. Dick turned professional for one of the independent promoters, and was surprised to discover when making his debut that he was billed as the Lightweight champion of Spain!

Kevin Conneely 
It would be so easy to fall into the trap of rolling out a list of stereotypical labels to describe the Irish born Kevin Conneely. We won't. We will just tell you of the joy the Liverpool wrestler's appearance could bring to fans. A great wrestler and comedian of the ring. Liverpool wrestler Kevin Conneely began his career with the independent promoters in the 1960s, coming first to our attention on an independent show against masked man Mitzuko Chango in 1965. By then he had around four years experience against top opposition men such as Jack and Ray Taylor, Johnny Saint and Bill Tunney.  In 1969 he was signed up by Wryton Promotions and was an immediate success in Joint Promotion rings, with fans appreciating the combination of wrestling ability and humour.  He was to remain a popular figure on Joint Promotion bills throughout the 1970s, returning to the independents in the 1980s.  Kevin Conneely sadly died on holiday in Thailand in 2004.

Bill Connor
Our comment that Bill Connor had a well worn face are uttered only with warmth for a fine wrestler that we always enjoyed watching. His wiry body zipped round the ring, slowing down just enough to reveal a grin as he had outfoxed his opponent yet again. An ex paratrooper from Salford Bill learned to wrestled at the Manco Amateur Wrestling Club in Stretford. His first love was boxing but Bill was encouraged to try his hand at pro wrestling by Ken Cadman.  Like so many Lancashire lads he was taught  the professional side of the business at the Wryton Stadium, Bolton, turning professional after a decade in the amateur ranks. Bill was a regular worker, mainly for Wryton Promotions, for around ten years before disappearing in the mid 1970s. Outside the ring Bill ws a builder by trade.

Martin “Chopper” Conroy (Also known as Cordite Conroy)
One of wrestling's pioneers going back to the all-in days of the 1930s Wigan's Martin Conroy was one of the most enduring and cherished stars of the wrestling ring. Most readers remember him as one of their favourite referees or Master of Ceremonies. A few will remember him as Chopper Conroy the wrestler, and even older ones as Cordite Conroy, the alleged Australian hard man.

By whatever name he was known Mr Conroy had a long and proud wrestling tradition, turning professional in 1931, and clashing with pre war stars King Curtis, Jack Pye, Jim Wango, Norman the Butcher and the like.

Our earliest recorded matches are in the north of England with more in and around London in the mid 1930s, which coincides with a report we received that away from the ring in the 1930s Cordite Conroy was a part time physical education teacher. A respected man throughout his career Martin was one of the featured wrestlers in a vintage wrestling promotion series of cards by Wryton Promotions entitled "Stars of the Ring." He was also one of the two featured wrestlers in the book "Know Your Wrestling Holds."

Martin more or less took a break from the wrestling to serve during the second world war, returning to the ring in peace time to wrestle for almost twenty more years until he finally retired in 1963.

He went on to become a top  referee and trainer for Wryton Promotions, before moving onto the management board and bringing the likes of Johnny Saint, Al Marquette and Wild Angus over to Joint Promotions.

A man who devoted his life to wrestling, fondly remembered by those in the wrestling fraternity, he passed away whilst holidaying in Majorca.

NB: This entry is awaiting revision due to new information coming to light of two Conroy brothers.

Page reviewed: 3/4/19