JOHNNY KILBANE, the Irish-American boxer who remains the longest reigning World Featherweight Champion of all time, is the subject of a film to be shown at the Galway Film Fleadh.
Croí Trodach - A Fighting Heart, directed by Des Kilbane, a relative of Johnny, will be shown in the Cinemobile, outside the Town Hall Theatre, on Saturday July 13 at 6pm (as Gaeilge ) and on Sunday 14 at 10am (in English ).
Johnny’s people were originally from Achill Island while he was born in Cleveland, Ohio. It goes on to trace his chance discovery as a boxer; his elevation to World Boxing Champion in 1912; his role in the US army during World War I; and his impressive boxing career of 142 winning fights before finally losing the crown to a French opponent in 1923.
Croí Trodach includes rare archive footage of some of Johnny’s fights, particularly the Kilbane v Atell World Title Fight from 1913. “The 100-year old volatile nitrate film was in a fragile state when discovered in a Cleveland attic and had to be painstakingly restored,” says Des Kilbane.
The film also explores the theme of Irish emigration to the US, the role of Irish workers on the construction of the Erie Canal, and the cultural, social and historical links between Achill Island and Cleveland.
The soundtrack was composed by the Willy Vlautin, the leader of the acclaimed country-rock band Richmond Fontaine.
The Galway Film Fleadh and Galway Bay Brewery are producing a limited edition A Fighting Heart Irish Ale exclusively for the screening.