Belfast Telegraph

Tributes paid to John Kelly as Belfast boxing legend is laid to rest

By Gareth Fullerton

Mourners gathered in Belfast yesterday to pay their respects to boxing champion John Kelly.

The former British and European bantamweight champion died peacefully at his home on December 29 following a long illness.

Mr Kelly's remains left his Shaftesbury Avenue home in the city's Ormeau Road area ahead of Requiem Mass at St Malachy's Church.

The 84-year-old (right) was laid to rest in Roselawn Cemetery immediately after the service.

Born in 1932, Mr Kelly claimed Irish, British and European bantamweight titles all in the same year - 1953.

He would go on to have 28 professional bouts, winning 24 (14 by KO).

Father Michael McGinnity, who led yesterday's Mass, described the former champion as a "great family man" and a "well-known and much-loved" figure.

"There was a wonderful turnout of family and friends to celebrate John's life," he said.

"John had a wonderful boxing career where he won those three titles in the same year.

"It was a phenomenal success story over such a short space of time.

"But he was also a great family man who was much-loved."

The priest added: "He had a strong work ethic that was evident in many parts of his life, not just in the discipline of boxing.

"It was wonderful to see so many people pay their respects today, from young emerging boxers to older veterans who would have known John well."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph