Belfast Telegraph

Belfast boxing legend John Kelly dies at the age of 84

By Staff Reporter

The death has been announced of John Kelly (84), one of Belfast's finest boxers.

Born in the city in 1932, Kelly fought his way to glory in the 1950s, taking the Irish, British and European bantamweight champion titles.

Following a successful period as an amateur, Kelly had his first professional bout in 1951, winning against Peter Morrison by a technical knockout, and his last in 1957, when he knocked out Teddy Barker at the King's Hall.

Along the way the 5ft 4in fighter had 28 bouts, winning 24 (14 by KOs).

In June 1953 he defeated Bunty Doran at the Ulster Hall. The victory brought Kelly both the Irish bantamweight title and the British Boxing Board of Control Northern Ireland area title.

In October that same year, and still undefeated as a professional, Kelly won both the British and European bantamweight titles after a five-round bout against Peter Keenan in the King's Hall.

That year of 1953 was to be the peak of his career in the ring.

In early 1954 he lost his European title to France's Robert Cohen, and later in the year also lost his British title to Peter Keenan

Kelly, who lived at Shaftesbury Avenue in the city's Ormeau Road area, died peacefully on Thursday after a long illness.

A Requiem Mass for the boxing legend will be held at St Malachy's Church, Belfast, at 1pm on January 5.

He will be buried at Roselawn Cemetery in east Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph

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