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Colin Dunne, boxing hero of Holloway, turns 50

PUBLISHED: 09:00 01 September 2020

Colin Dunne (right) throws a right to the head of Wayne Rigby, during their IBO/WBU Light-Welterweight title contest at the London Arena

Colin Dunne (right) throws a right to the head of Wayne Rigby, during their IBO/WBU Light-Welterweight title contest at the London Arena

PA Archive/PA Images

Colin ‘Dynamo’ Dunne celebrates his 50th birthday this month – where has the time gone?

Colin Dunne, the London based Liverpudlian, celebrates after retaining his WBU lightweight championship with a unanimous points victory over South African Phillip Holiday at York Hall, Bethnal GreenColin Dunne, the London based Liverpudlian, celebrates after retaining his WBU lightweight championship with a unanimous points victory over South African Phillip Holiday at York Hall, Bethnal Green

Born in Liverpool in September 1970, Dunne fought out of Holloway during his successful professional career from December 1993 until July 2003.

During that time he became World Boxing Union champion and successfully defended his title on no fewer than seven occasions.

The WBU was the brainchild of the late Jon “Tiny” Robinson, a regular weekly boxing correspondent at the Hackney Gazette for a good many years.

Robinson was the European boxing representative of the International Boxing Federation (IBF), when he created the WBU in 1995.

Dunne was a fine pressure fighter who could box well and who could also get involved in close quarter encounters where his guile and strength invariably outgunned and outgamed most of his opponents.

He was supported throughout his decade-long career by a shrewd and knowledgeable manager in Hackney-born Terry Toole, a former professional bantamweight and featherweight and a fine coach in Colin Lake, who had been a successful super featherweight professional boxer in his own right in the 1960s.

Many of Dunne’s fights were promoted by National Promotions under the leadership of iconic fight promoter the late Mickey Duff and they undoubtedly laid the foundations for his future ring achievements.

Dunne developed a huge local following throughout north London and many of his early fights were raucous events with him often being accompanied to the ring by fans carrying a banner type portrait of him accompanied by pulsating loud music and the chanting of the words “Dynamo”.

They were great nights, where the likes of singer “Johnny Rotten” and some of the capital’s well-known sporting personalities, including the horse racing sector, were often to be seen.

Dunne enjoyed a winning debut in December 1993, stopping Mark O’Callaghan in the opening round at the York Hal,l and remained unbeaten for another 21 contests, picking up the vacant Southern Area lightweight championship, before meeting Michael Ayers for the latter’s British crown.

He succumbed in nine rounds in November 1996 to Ayers who was a class act and later had a very decent reign as IBO world lightweight champion, but Dunne regrouped after that first loss in the paid code and a year later was crowned WBU world lightweight champion with a resounding points success over Hungarian Zoltan Kalocsai for the vacant belt.

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Before that success Dunne stopped Lewis Reynold in four rounds in April 1997 in a Southern Area tussle.

Following his world title triumph, Dunne racked up seven successful title defences seeing off challenges from Emmanuel Clottey (Ghana), Frenchman Affif Djetti, Phillip Holiday (South Africa), Luton’s outstanding boxer Billy Schwer – a really great fight this was – South African Martin Jacobs, Wayne Rigby from Manchester and then tough Colombian, Esteban de Jesus.

However, by that latter contest Dunne was not quite firing on all cylinders like he had before.

Schwer was a former British, Commonwealth and EBU lightweight title holder and probably gave Dunne his hardest test as champion, when a split points decision going the way of the man from Holloway.

It was ironic that Dunne lost his WBU crown to fellow Liverpudlian in December 2002, as southpaw David Burke took a split points decision. There was precious little in it, two scores of 114-113 going to the new champion with the same being cast for Dunne.

Many thought the decision could have gone Dunne’s way, but it was not to be. His long and very charismatic tenure was over, but he left the ring at the Brentwood Centre in Essex late that night with his head held high; even if he no longer had a world title belt around his waist.

Further irony was to follow in that Burke lost his belt six months later in his first defence in Italy.

Dunne’s final ring appearance was at the Brentwood Centre in July 2003 when he suffered a second-round stoppage loss at the hands of Hartlepool’s Kevin Bennett in a scheduled eight-rounder. He had won 38 contests, 26 of them inside the distance, and lost three, two inside the distance.

How will boxing historians and indeed others judge the career of Colin “Dynamo” Dunne is impossible to know with any accuracy.

Some could say that he was somewhat limited in his performances and therefore because of this, did not get into the mix for the more recognised titles such as the WBC, WBA AND IBF belts and that was possibly true.

However, the Bennett defeat apart in his swansong and the controversial loss to Burke which could have easily gone Dunne’s way, his only loss was to Ayers in a great domestic fight and against a first-class operator in his own right.

For my part, I would say that Dunne beat almost all of those put in front of him and I was so glad and honoured to be at ringside for much of his career.

He was joy to witness and should be remembered as such. His Scouse sense of humour and cheeky grin endeared him to thousands of fans across the capital and beyond – he was a true warrior of the ring and always gave 100 per cent each time he climbed into the ropes square. Nobody can give or ask for more.


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