Tommy Connor


Born: 18 August, 1940, in Cambuslang.

Died: 7 December, 2006, in Blantyre, aged 66.

AT HIS peak, from 1958-68, Tommy Connor was one of Scotland's outstanding fly and bantamweight boxers who fought some of the biggest names in amateur and professional boxing circles at his weight during those years.

As a boy, Connor was enthralled by tales about local bantamweight fighter Jim O' Neill.

But it was after joining the Scottish National Club in Bridgeton, in Glasgow's east end, that the young Connor showed some of the prodigious ring talents of his boyhood hero.

The "National" in Bridgeton was the home gym owned by Jim Gilmour and his son Tommy - both major figures in Scottish boxing management and promotion.

Rubbing shoulders and sparring on a daily basis with such luminaries as Chic Calderwood, the only Scot to win a British light-heavyweight title, John McDermott, the 1962 Perth Commonwealth Games featherweight gold medallist, and Bobby Mallon, the 1962 Commonwealth flyweight gold winner, helped the young Connor to progress rapidly through the amateur ranks. Ironically though, it was Mallon who stood in the way of Connor's winning any Scottish amateur titles.

On turning professional, Connor, who possessed a formidable left jab, produced some outstanding performances, beating highly rated fellow Scots Tommy Burgoyne and Henry Hoey and giving the future British and Empire flyweight champion from Hamilton, John McLuskey, two hard fights.

However, it was the draw with the outstanding Londoner and British and European bantamweight champion, Johnny Clark, at London's Albert Hall in 1966 that saw Connor's finest hour.

With little time to prepare for the bout, Connor nevertheless fought superbly to force a draw verdict.

Thereafter, however, the defeats became more frequent, but as ring contemporaries and former Scottish National clubmates John McDermott, MBE, and current Glasgow boxing promoter Alex Morrison, both agree, Connor's apparent modest victory tally of 12 wins with two draws in 28 pro bouts paint a very misleading picture of the man's true outstanding ring abilities.

Meanwhile, Connor had met and married Kathleen Allen and they had three sons. The second son, James, followed in his father's footsteps into the ring in the 1990s.

Following the demise of his ring career, in 1968, Tommy Connor fell victim to the twin addictions of drinking and gambling, and parted from Kathleen - although he remained on friendly terms with his estranged wife and three sons right up until his death.

By way of an epitaph for his former Scottish National clubmate, Mr Morrison said: "Tommy Connor may have lost his way in life but he never lost his dignity, for when his body was discovered in the model lodging house that he called home, he had sufficient funds put by to pay for his own funeral.

"Tommy was both a nice man and a very good boxer - truly worthy of remembrance."