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John B. 'Jack' Kelly
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Athlete
    (October 4, 1889-June 20, 1960)
    Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Rower
    Won Olympic gold medals in single scull (1920) and double scull (1920,1924)
    Father of Grace Kelly
    He competed in the 1920 Olympics only because he was kept from competing in the Diamond Sculls at the Henley Royal Regatta.
    He ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Philadelphia (1935).
    When Grace decided to become an actress, he declared her choice of career ‘a slim cut above streetwalker.'
    He was rejected for the Diamond Sculls partly because he had been a manual laborer (and partly because he was a member of the Vesper Boat Club, which the Henley Regatta accused of violating their amateurism rules by using a public subscription to raise travel money).
    At the Olympics, he defeated Diamond winner Jack Beresford in the single scull race by a second.
    A half hour later, he and his cousin Paul Costello won the double scull race, a feat that has (through 2020) never been equaled at the Olympics.
    He sent his racing cap to King George V with the note ‘Greetings from a bricklayer.’
    His Olympic victory was part of a 126-race winning streak in single scull (1919-20).
    In addition to his rowing successes, he boxed while in the Army during World War I, achieving a 12-0 record before being sidelined by a broken ankle, and played football for the Holmesburg Athletic Club, once scoring three touchdowns in a quarter in a game against Camden.
    He built his bricklaying firm into a multimillion dollar construction company.
    He served as National Physical Fitness Director during World War II.

Credit: C. Fishel


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