Former Tuatha De Danann head coach launches uniquely Irish Jiu Jitsu Brand


Marko Conroy, who co-founded and coached at Irish MMA gym Tuatha De Danann along with John Ging, has moved on to the apparel business, launching jiu jitsu brand “Wolfhound Fightwear” two weeks ago along with his business partner Ian Stewart.

Conroy, a respected BJJ practitioner on the Irish scene, earned his blue belt under Metamoris 3 headliner Eddie Bravo before obtaining a purple belt under Darragh O’Conaill towards the end of 2013.

Making the move from training students in the Port Laoise MMA facility, Conroy explained how he ended up pursuing his latest venture.

“I’ve been training jiu jitsu for about six years now and like a lot of people involved in the sport, I’m completely obsessed. It wasn’t until I got talking to an old training partner of mine, Ian Stewart, that I thought that this was something we could actually do.

“He trained with me in Port Laoise for a while and he has 12 years of marketing experience under his belt. Together, we decided that we would try and launch a uniquely Irish brand that puts out high quality jiu jitsu gis,” he said.

Conroy went on to describe the lengthy process that was needed to get the right design for the new products, enlisting the help of some of Ireland’s most dominant grappling competitors, including Gracie Barra’s Darren Curtis.

“We came up with the concept in 2012 and selecting the right design and finish took 15 months. It was a massive benefit that I had been training for so long, I could judge the prototypes quite well and I had people like Darren Curtis give me a second opinion for things like shrinkage and general movement.

Having big guys like him swinging out of you when you’re training kind of guarantees the quality of the material too,” he laughed.

“We had a lot of designs come in over the 15 month period and it would’ve been easy to just pick the cheapest one, but Ian and I wanted something that I could be proud of, so we took the extra time. We went for the ‘Wolfhound’ name because it’s something that people will automatically associate with Ireland.

“One of Ian’s ideas was to have ‘tada gan iarracht’ embroidered on both of the gis that we have available, which is Gaelic for ‘nothing without effort’ – it looks great and I think it’s a proverb that sums up BJJ pretty well,  I’m sure anyone who has trained the sport will agree with me. “

The Laois man described the products that are available from Wolfhound Fightwear:

“We only launched the brand two weeks ago so we’re still very much in the start-up process. We have two gis available at the moment. Our white gi, Púca (Ghost), weighs about 450 grams, it’s competition approved and it’s on the market at a cut price of €80 at the moment.

“The Dabilla gi comes in black and it’s my personal favourite, I think it looks brilliant and just like the Púca, it’s great to roll in. It’s a little bit heavier at 550 grams, but we’ve been getting great feedback on both of the gis. One of the unique things about them is that they’re both completely embroidered, there’s no patch work on them at all.”

The Wolfhound designer outlined why he believes his product is a good choice for jiu jitsu practitioners.

“There are so many brilliant gi manufacturers out there but for a suit with the equivalent quality and finish you’d be paying maybe €120/€130 euro. We are trying to make everything as cheap as we can, we really want to promote the sport and give Irish jiu jitsu players an Irish made, high quality kimono. “

Despite just setting out on their journey, Conroy highlighted how Wolfhound Fightwear is already striving to support Irish combat athletes.

“Seeing how jiu jitsu has taken off in Ireland is great. When we launched the brand we were conscious of helping out the athletes, so we’ve been looking to help a few people out. We are offering club discounts and even though we’re still in the start-up phase, we’re already sponsoring Sam McNally who is a young European BJJ champion from Darragh O’Conaill’s East Coasts Jiu Jitsu Academy.

“We sent a gi and a rash guard down to Stewart Dollery for the guys at the MMA Clinic too. They have guys going to the MMA amateur world championships in Las Vegas so I hope the gear we gave them goes some way to helping them in their preparation and when they compete.”

Conroy also claimed that the brand is already looking to expand into international markets.

“At the moment we’re focusing on national sales and we’ve been doing really well, we already need new stock. We’re going to branch out into MMA apparel soon, stuff like shorts and gloves, and again, we’ll be looking to sponsor athletes as soon as possible.

“Ian is looking at a possible deal with an agent in America, so hopefully the Irish folklore inspired equipment will go down with the ex-pats,” he finished.

By Peter Carroll – @PetesyCarroll

Owner/Editor of Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.

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