Johnny Kilbane House and Street Dedication
March 16, 2012
John "Johnny" Patrick Kilbane (April 9, 1889 – May 31, 1957) was a featherweight boxer who held the world featherweight title from 1912 to 1923, the longest period in the division's history. He was the second longest world title holder in boxing history, behind only Joe Louis.
Kilbane was born to John and Mary (Gallagher) Kilbane in Cleveland, Ohio on April 9th, 1889. His mother died when he was 3 years old and his father went blind when he was 6. He attended school until the sixth grade when he dropped out to help support his family.
A crowd of almost 100 family and friends gathered at Kilbane's former house at 7413 Herman on Cleveland's West Side for a special ceremony.
Judge Brendan Sheehan, Councilmen Martin Cain and Matt Zone, Judge Ray Pianka and Council President Martin Sweeney
Cleveland Ward 15 City Councilman Matt Zone served as MC for the ceremony.
Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone
He introduced Judge Raymond Pianka who gave some historical perspective about Johnny Kilbane and Cleveland. 100 years ago, 200,000 people greeted Kilbane's arrival back in Cleveland after he won the world the championship.
Judge Raymond Pianka
In the short clip below from the above video, Judge Pianka told how the Cleveland Leader from 100 years ago said that 90% of the crime in Cleveland was committed by the Irish.
Next, Councilman Matt Zone introduced Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald.
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald
Cleveland Council President Martin Sweeney gave a proclamation from the City of Cleveland for Kilbane-O'Toole Day. He joked that Councilman Zone would be boxing Sporty Kilbane to end the ceremony.
Cleveland Council President Martin Sweeney
Then Councilman Zone presented a Cleveland Landmark Certificate to the current owner, Eric Hrbek, of the Johnny Kilbane house. Hrbek and a relative of Johnny Kilbane, Kevin O'Toole, unveiled the sign in front of the house.
Kevin O'Toole, a relative of Johnny Kilbane said a few words
Councilman Zone gives certificate to the Hrbek family, the current owners of the Johnny Kilbane house
Father Bob Begin, Pastor of St Colman Parish, spoke about boxing and led a prayer for the families and the neighborhood.
Father Bob Begin, Pastor of St Colman Parish
The crowd then walked a few houses down to the end of th street where a street sign was covered up. Some young relatives of the boxing champion helped unveil the sign which gives an alternate name to Herman Ave. - Kilbane Town.
Everyone wanted to take pictures with the new Kilbane Town sign.
They also enjoyed special cookies made by Cathy Sabolik in honor of the great champion Johnny Kilbane.