Billy Kelly

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Billy Kelly
Born July 4, 1878 in Bergen, NY

Passed away on April 2, 1954 in Buffalo, NY (2 days after Cleveland Hill school fire)


  • Sports editor of The Buffalo Courier and the Buffalo Courier-Express from 1904 – 1954
  • Got his start at The Buffalo Courier by reporting on the William McKinley assassination and the trial of Leon Czolgosz
  • Wrote his first sports copy in 1902
  • His column, Before and After, appeared in the Buffalo Courier and Courier Express from the 1920s until 1954.
  • Moved with his family to Buffalo in 1885
  • In 1908 he organized the International Athletic Club, brining legalized boxing to Western New York. It was here where he introduced numerous measures which soon became standard practice such as preliminary physicals, the use of protective cups, and the use of sterile bandages.
  • Covered numerous title fights. Was prominent in bringing Jack Dempsey to Buffalo on numerous occasions. All ties Dempsey has to Western New York were through Billy Kelly’s efforts.
  • The famous horse, Billy Kelly was named after him. Billy Kelly would finish second to Triple Crown winner Sir Barton in the 1919 Kentucky Derby.
  • Placing judge at Fort Erie Racetrack for 15 years
  • Traveled with the Bisons baseball club for nine years during the days of future Braves Miracle Man George Stallings.
  • Covered 16 World Series.
  • Close relationship with Joe McCarthy. Marse Joe had Billy Kelly announce his retirement from managing.
  • Jack Dempsey also used Kelly for his major announcements as well.
  • Twice served as president of the International League Baseball Writers Association.
  • Helped organize the Newspapermen’s Golf Association and was its only president for the 15 years it existed. He won the association championship in 1928, 1929, and 1933.
  • Established in 1956, the Billy Kelly Award was given annually to outstanding high school athletes by the Courier-Express.