John (Jackie) Keegan

Portrait by Robert Howson

The headline in the Guelph Daily Mercury that June day of 1939 “Jack Keegan Wins Canadian Title in Savage Five Round Match”. Reporter Bill Coulter wrote “The fight at the Cambridge Street arena, attended by the largest crowd ever to see a boxing show in this city, was one of the greatest battles ever fought for the Canadian Welter Title. Midway through the third round (Gordon) Schmaltz of Kitchener shook Keegan with two hard rights, but Jackie only fought back more viciously, to land two sledgehammer righthand blows which forced the champion to give ground. The bodies of both men were covered with blood at this stage, their faces were just red masks and the crowd was crazy with joy”.

That was Jackie Keegan, as tough as nails, and possibly the greatest boxer our city has ever known. A proud member of the Royal Canadian Legion, he won the Ontario Amateur title in 1938 and held the Armed Forces Welterweight title from 1942-44 for the Central and Western Command while stationed in Winnipeg.

Before his boxing days he was an outstanding runner and a member of the Ontario Junior Relay Championship team. After his retirement from the squared circle he worked in Guelph and was an avid sports fan and dedicated fisherman.

Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame May 6, 1998