Now available for licensing exclusively from the family of former featherweight champion Johnny Kilbane, from the personal collection of Kilbane himself, Johnny Kilbane vs. Abe Attell and Johnny Kilbane vs. Danny Frush!

On February 22, 1912 Johnny Kilbane fought Abe Attell for the Featherweight Championship of the World. Attell, despite being in marvelous condition was foiled at every turn by Kilbane who was faster, stronger and more skilled. Despite a constant banter by Attell, denigrating the press for their support of Kilbane, the decision was not in doubt at the end of the twentieth and final round. This is the earliest film of a featherweight championship in existence. The duration of the film is 38 minutes encompassing many interesting aspects of the fight such as both fighters training camps, scenes of the promoter and his family at their home, outside of the Vernon Arena on the day of the fight, the introduction of celebrities from ring center, the fight itself, and the fighters shaking hands afterwards. 

Kilbane held the title longer than any fighter in history and his reign lasted for more than a decade. On September 17, 1921 he made his last successful title defense against English born, Baltimore based challenger Danny Frush. Many felt Frush was the heir apparent. He was young, a perfect physical specimen and carried an impressive record. His handlers felt that if they could just get the now grey haired Kilbane to put his title on the line, Frush would be the new champion. What ensued was one of the most controversial and thrilling fights of the era. Early in the first round Kilbane complained that Frush was hitting low. When the referee neglected to admonish Frush, Kilbane took matters into his own hands and allegedly kneed Frush in the groin, dropping him to the canvas. Not wanting to disappoint the packed stadium, the referee allowed Frush a rest before the fight continued in the second round. Frush had the better of Kilbane in the balance of the second round refuting any claims that Frush was seriously hurt. For the next several rounds an enraged Kilbane fought like a tiger. He battered Frush, dropped him numerous times, and finally in the seventh stopped him in a Dempsey-like display of fury as the stadium erupted in bedlam. Its all here in a film that runs 46 minutes showing extensive scenes from both fighters training camps and the entire seven rounds of the fight.

These films were passed down from Johnny Kilbane through his family. Years of neglect had rendered them badly deteriorated, unwatchable, and on the verge of complete decay. A chance encounter resulted in Johnny's great grandson connecting with boxing historian and film archivist Steve Compton. Steve was sent the films in the hope that he would be able to salvage them. Over a period of months Steve preserved and restored the films, often times scanning large sections frame by frame and re-edited the films back into their original condition, thereby preserving an important part of boxing history and Johnny's legacy.

These films are now available for licensing at standard rates of $50 per second. Timecoded and watermarked screeners can be provided at the cost of the requesting parties for a fee of $200. Once clip(s) have been selected for use, the $200 would be deducted from the total cost of the master.

Please direct inquiries to Kevin O'Toole


Note: see text below the video for details about the films

Films are copyrighted and the exclusive property of the family of Johnny Kilbane, unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.

Johnny Kilbane