COLIN Joynson’s name may not be as familiar to the fans of TV’s ‘60s and ‘70s Saturday afternoon wrestling as Jackie Pallo, Mick McManus or Kendo Nagasaki, but it is certainly one of the most respected.
A former Bolton pub landlord, Colin had a 30-year career in the ring that earned him fans not only right across the UK but across the globe.
Today, at the Little Hulton bungalow home bearing the name “Body Slam” Colin, at 71, is happy to look back on a career that involved most of wrestling’s most famous names.
And which saw him, in his own quiet way, become a TV favourite who could hold his own in the ring with the best.
Born in Manchester’s Cheetham Hill, Colin was already a keen footballer and swimmer when his father, also a wrestler, introduced him to the sport at Manchester YMCA. “He wanted to keep me off the streets so insisted I learn,” he said.
“When I saw my first match at Belle Vue, though, I was hooked.”
The 16-year-old took to wrestling straight away, showing an early talent and technical ability that marked him out in the amateur field. By the time he was 17, Colin – a light middleweight who went through every weight in his career – decided to turn “pro”.
“I realised I needed to make money and that was the only way to go,” he said.
So by day he was an apprentice toolmaker and by night a burgeoning wrestler, happy to take on much more experienced opponents. His first fight was on November 18, 1960, at Bolton’s Wryton Stadium when he wrestled Stefan Miller.
Colin lost, but he was on his way and regularly fighting wrestlers who would become lifelong friends.
As his reputation as a determined battler grew, so did the number of bouts. At one stage he was wrestling in six different venues a week, all over the UK.
Unflashy but good entertainment thanks to his genuine skills, Colin became a favourite with the fans and with commentator wrestling Kent Walton – especially when he teamed up with Steve Haggetty to create tag-team The Dangermen.
The crowd delighted in booing the tough-looking duo.
During six-month long stints wrestling in Germany, Colin’s wife Helen and young son Christian would join him, the family setting up home in a caravan. Here, he was known as “The Pocket Tank” because of his size (5’ 8”) and determination. In the UK, he became Bulldog Joynson for the same reasons.
“I was well-known for my high leaps and my bumps,” says Colin, always an agile fighter.
On one occasion, as he came out of a move which drove his body high in the air, accidentally kicking out the ring lights and showering the canvas with glass. “I didn’t get my bonus that night!” he laughs, ruefully.
After spells in Japan, Sweden and South Africa and feted everywhere, Colin retired and became a publican at the New Inn in Halliwell Road. Even here, his fighting instinct continued; he took on Bass brewery in an eight-year long case, which he ultimately lost.
In 2002, diabetes cost Colin his right leg but, in typical spirit, he has remained intrepid. He still sees former wrestling colleagues and can recall every fight.