Willie "KO" Brennan

This image was supplied by Harry Shaffer from the

Antiquities of the Prize Ring Photograph Archive
Click Here To Purchase


Willie "KO" Brennan is often refered to in the record books as willie Brennan or KO Brennan. His real name was William Brenner. He fought Hall of Fame greats Mike Gibbons, Harry Greb, Ted Kid Lewis and Jack Britton. He also fought tuff middleweight champions Al McCoy, George Chip and Frank Mantell.

He battled for the middleweight championship on Oct 19, 1914 against Al McCoy. It took place in Buffalo New York where Brennan was based out of at the time. Al McCoy weighed 158 lbs. for the fight and Brennan weighed 157. Brennan lost the fight which was a No Decision 10 rounder.



The following is taken from the "Buffalo Veteran Boxers Association" website. http://esf.uvm.edu/vtbox/buffbanq.htm

Willie "KO" Brennan: Middleweight 1905-22: Perhaps the best fighter in Buffalo during the years of 1910-20 was a man by the name of William M. Brenner, who fought under the name Willie "KO" Brennan, so as to draw on the Irish-American's love for boxing.

A list of Brennan's opponents during this period reads like a boxing Who's Who. He traded punches with eight world champions and many top contenders of his day. He fought Harry Greb three times in no decision bouts, two of which were in a ten day span in 1916. Greb later remarked that "those fights with that Dutchman were some of the toughest I've had." Brennans' best fighting weight was 154, but he made 148 ringside for Ted "Kid" Lewis, Jack Britton, Jimmy Duffy, and Kid Curley.

As young men Brennan and Herman Smith went to Coney Island in 1909, where they waited on tables, and fought whenever they could get bouts. Many of these fights were unrecorded, but Brannan scored 31 KOs in his first 40 fights and thus got his nickname. By 1912 "Kayo" was fighting top contenders such as Mike Gibbons and George Chip. Brennan's fight with Chip was considered one of the best bouts ever witnessed in Buffalo, as they went at each other like two wildcats for 10 rounds. Less than a year later Chip knocked out Frankie Klaus to win the world middleweight title.

No one knows for sure how many professional fights Willie had, but it had to be well over 175 bouts, not counting those he had in the Service. His 1914 record shows that he fought a "suicide" schedule of six bouts in eight nights and six different cities. Fighting in Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Columbus, Ohio, Brennan then took the train back to Buffalo for the weekend, and then shoved off for Windsor, Ontario, Cincinnati, Ohio and Joplin, Missouri, where he fought on three successive nights.

K.O. Brennan's fighting career was interrupted by WWI, where he served in the Army overseas for 2.5 years in 1917-19. He came back to resume boxing in 1920, but at age 32 he only fought a few more times. He claimed he had over 300 fights and was never knocked down.

After Willie retired from the ring he refereed wrestling matches, and operated taverns bearing his name, first at Broadway and Jefferson Avenue, and later at Jefferson and East Ferry Street. He loved hunting and fishing, and at one time belonged to six different clubs. Kayo Brennan died in 1975 at age 87.