KILBANE, JOHN PATRICK "JOHNNY" (18 Apr. 1889-31 May 1957), world featherweight boxing champion (1912-23), was born in Cleveland to John and Mary (Gallagher) Kilbane. He trained with Jimmy Dunn and had his first fight in 1907, a 3-round decision, which paid him $1.50 and carfare. Kilbane fought featherweight champion Abe Attell on 22 Feb. 1912, winning a 20-round decision. The 5'5" 120 lbs. champion retained the crown 11 years, the longest reign in featherweight-division history.
After retaining his championship with a disputed 20-round draw with Johnny Dundee on 29 Apr. 1913, Kilbane fought mostly no-decision contests. During WORLD WAR I, he was a physical training instructor at Camp Sherman and Camp Gordon, Ga. On 17 Sept. 1921 at Cleveland's LEAGUE PARK, he knocked out contender Danny Frush in the 7th round, for which a crowd of 17,235 paid a record $97,239. Kilbane received $60,000. He did not box again until 1923, when he lost the title to Eugene Criqui in 6 rounds, ending his career 142-4. Although Kilbane received $75,000 for his last fight, he was almost broke by the time of the Depression. He worked for CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS as a physical education instructor in 1934-35, but by the 1940s served in the Ohio senate and house of representatives. In 1951 he was elected the clerk of municipal court, a post held at his death. He married Irene McDonald in 1910 and had 2 daughters, Helen, who died at 6, and Mary. Kilbane died in Cleveland and was buried in CALVARY CEMETERY.