Jimmy Kilrain Kelly – The secret’s out
(With Dermot Bolger)
Jimmy Kilrain Kelly was born to be a boxer. It’s in his genes. In case he doubted it, his folks got his middle name from the 19th century bareknuckle boxer Jake Kilrain (Jake battled John L Sullivan in 1889, in what was the last ever world heavyweight title fight settled with bare knuckles. Kilrain was furious when his corner pulled him out after the 75th round. He thought he’d wear O’Sullivan out!)
From a young age, Jimmy followed his Dad down to the gym and soon picked up the gloves himself. He tried other martial arts for a while but went back to boxing. As an amateur, he won 3 junior ABA titles and 2 schoolboy titles.
By the time he turned pro at the age of 19, his amateur record was impressive – he only lost a handful out of 70 odd fights.
From the Wythenshawe area of Manchester, he has become a big ticket seller on the local circuit while compiling a perfect 15 -0 (7 KO’s) ledger. Following his exploits in 2015, Manchester’s best kept boxing secret is out. His last outing was very eye catching. The normally durable Ghanaian Isaac Aryee was expected to give Jimmy a tough exam.
He went the full 10 rounds with current NABF light-middleweight champion Konstanin Ponomarev in 2013. Jimmy had him out of there in 3 rounds.
It’s high time IrishBoxing.Com caught up with him.
With a middle name taken from a famous bare-knuckle fighter, I take it there’s plenty of boxing history in the family?
My name comes from the bare-knuckle fighter Jake Kilrain, of Irish decent, he was recognised as the toughest fighter in the Mill he worked in by the age of 20, and went on to be a famous prize fighter in the late 1880’s. My dad, Jimmy Senior had been an amateur boxer with over 100 fights; he only missed out on being a professional boxer due to his eyesight. My Granddad also was an amateur boxer, so you could definitely say the boxing is in the Irish blood line!
You have sported Irish emblems on your trunks and with a name like Kelly you must have strong Irish connections?
Yes I always have the Irish emblems on my shorts, it’s important to always recognise my roots. My Dad was born in the Kilkenny / Carlow area and moved to England at the age of 7. Most of our family holidays I remember were visiting family back over there. I still have a lot of family in Southern Ireland and I visit regularly. I love to visit Dublin and the West of Ireland – I’m hoping to see some more of the homeland over the summer before my next fight
You were young and doing well in the amateur ranks when you ditched the vest to go pro, was that always the goal?
Yes definitely. I had 70 amateur fights of which I only lost 5 so I knew that I needed to push for the Pro game. I needed a new challenge and I was determined to make it as a Pro….I still am!
Your manager Ensley Bingham helped create a buzz about Manchester boxing in the 90’s, how much of an influence has he been on you?
Ensley is a fantastic trainer! He has so much experience in and out of the ring and he is a genuinely nice guy. He works hard at the gym and encourages all his fighters to achieve to the best of their abilities.
Is boxing buzzing again in Manchester with the likes of Anthony Crolla and Tyson Fury on the world title trail and young fighters like you coming through the ranks?
The Manchester boxing scene is on fire at the minute! It’s amazing to be part of it all. I trained at Jimmy Egan’s gym with Tyson Fury; he is actually a really nice, family orientated guy. He has so much determination and confidence and he’s certainly someone I look up to. Anthony is also a very genuine guy, I’ve known him for many many years, we boxed together for England. He’s a good friend who is always on hand for advice and he promotes all that is great about boxing.
Ensley could bang, you’ve KO’d your last 3 opponents, is your strength and power an area you have been working on?
Ensley definitely could bang a punch! I work hard with Ensley and Jono on the strength and power side, but also Ensley is well versed at the technical side of things, his experience means he can analyse my style and point out where I can improve.
2015 has seen you pick up two youth titles, with body shots being the key to victory, has this been an area you’ve been working on?
My trademark bodyshot has done me proud so far. However, I’ve got to say it’s not something I spend lots of time working on! I have a long reach and I can pack a punch with my left and right hands, I’ve stopped my previous fights with them before. I guess you could say its luck that both the titles came from me stopping the fight with the body shots, but it’s the overall performance I try to focus more on.
At 6 foot, you are a big light middleweight, is making weight tough?
I am 6ft but my natural weight is actually between 11 – 12 stone anyway, so it’s more about the strength and conditioning for me. I don’t drink, and I am generally quite a healthy eater too! It’s more a way of life than anything else.
There are some big fights out there on the British scene, have you set yourself any immediate targets?
At the minute I don’t really have a specific target person or an immediate target as such. I am enjoying taking things as they come. Obviously in the future I’d like to go for an Irish, British, European and Commonwealth title, but I’m still young and things are going so well at moment, I’m happy to see how it goes.
You are 15 -0, and a big ticket seller on the Manchester scene, have the bigger promoters started to take notice?
I have a definite group of loyal followers, to whom I am really grateful. It wouldn’t be the same without them. A few promoters have been in touch, and there is definitely a few things in the pipeline. Watch this space!