Colin ‘Troppy’ Knowles, a forgotten sports icon

Those who observed Colin “Troppy” Knowles over the last four decades, before his death several years ago, would remember him as the sort of laid-back mentor of athletes. His sports club discovered and nurtured youthful athletes in softball, basketball and track and field.

Knowles indeed provided the very foundation for the development of many who stood out in school sports; later became stars in league competition; and some who qualified for scholarships abroad.

When Knowles evolved as a coach, he was thought of by many as a newcomer to the sporting fraternity. That’s understandable because he, for years after his school sprinting career, concentrated on a transportation service business.

Then, he got back into the sporting fraternity. So, a great number of those within the national sports movement knew him for only his contribution during the second stint of his sports life. Perhaps, though, there are those who consider his early sports days just as meaningful as the latter period.

I certainly submit that he was one of the most exciting sprinters in Bahamian track and field history. For sure, he was one of the truly great starters. Such as Enoch Backford, Clive Sands, Danny Smith, Norris Stubbs, Wittington Saunders and Whitney Rolle – who were all a part of the “Golden Age of Sports” (1930-1970 decades) – were exceptional out of the blocks.

It’s arguable that Knowles was the best of them.

I recall a particular day at Southern Senior School, during a school sports meet. The legendary long jumper/sprinter Livingstone “Bones” Hepburn and Knowles were rivals. Previously, most often, Hepburn had gotten the better of Knowles because of his ability to reach an incredible high speed late in races. He would always overtake the fast-starting Knowles.

There is no video footage from those days, and as a result a lot of classic performances are lost to history, outside of the memories of a dying breed of old-timers.

Well, on that fateful day, they lined up for the start of the senior boys 100-yard dash.

The gun went off, and like a flash, shocking Hepburn, other race competitors and those looking on, Knowles was about eight strides in front of the field. An unbelieving but determined Hepburn bore down, exhibited an incredible burst of speed at the 50-yard mark and almost caught Knowles, but the Eastern Senior speedster had gotten too far out on the field. The 100 yards did not give Hepburn enough time to catch the bright-skinned, slightly-built speedster. It was Knowles’ crowning moment as a school sprinter. It made him famous locally. The word spread rapidly in sporting circles and generally: “Troppy beat Bones!”

It was one of the all-time great sporting performances in Bahamian school history.

Knowles was crowned the government schools sprint king. His feat was revered and talked about for many years thereafter. That was around 1965. Today, there are still some of us around who remember the race.

Knowles, for his body of sports contribution, was an icon, and he is today one of those missing from The Bahamas’ National Sports Hall of Fame. Hopefully, this coming November his name will be on the long list and carry over to the short list.

Continue your rest in eternity “Troppy”!


• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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