Boxing trophy returns home to Derry

Jimmy Kelly exhibition
Image caption The nickname 'Spider' came about after Jimmy Kelly punched his opponent so many times he said he thought Kelly had eight arms

It was a prize possession that had been lost for decades until it turned up at an auction and now sits as the centrepiece of an exhibition in Londonderry.

The Lonsdale trophy, won by boxing legend Jimmy 'Spider' Kelly, is on show along with the trophy won by his son Billy in a special exhibition in the Guildhall in Derry.

Both men won the British Empire featherweight title, Jimmy in 1938 and Billy 16 years later.

"It's lovely to see two trophies where they belong," said SDLP councillor John Boyle, who saw one of the trophies on an auction website.

"It was pure chance that I spotted the cup up for auction. We worked together and now it sits in a beautiful glass case.

"It had been out of Derry and not with the family for around 60 years, so I brought it up at the Derry City Council development committee when I saw it.

"The officers drove a very hard bargain and didn't end up paying £5,000 for it."

Family achievements

Image caption The exhibition opened on Monday in Derry's Guildhall and will run until 20 December

The nickname 'Spider' came about after Jimmy Kelly punched his opponent so many times he thought he had eight arms.

Billy Kelly, who was also nicknamed Spider, died at the age of 78 in 2010.

He made history in October 1954 when he emulated his father Jimmy by winning the British Empire featherweight title at Belfast's King's Hall.

The Derry man won the British title three months later before losing a European title bout against France's Ray Famechon on points in Dublin.

Kelly went on to lose title bouts against Nigeria's Hogan 'Kid' Bassey and Charlie Hill.

"You see a picture here at the exhibition of my father with his belt," said Billy junior.

"When my father was boxing there were nine world titles. On offer now there are 175 world titles. I think the sport is being devalued.

"I think the Kelly family achievements could be marked better in the city. It's beginning to be recognised now by Derry City Council."

A monument will be unveiled later this month in Fahan Street in Derry, where the Kelly family grew up.

The exhibition will close on 20 December 2013.

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