Wrestling official Mike Kelly passes away in Florida

By Craig Sesker | May 09, 2006, 5:22 p.m. (ET)
Mike Kelly, a top international wrestling official for close to 20 years who made major contributions to the sport, died Friday, May 5. Kelly, from Bradenton, Fla., was 56 years old.

Kelly also coached wrestling at Bradenton Manatee High School and worked as a high school official in Florida.

Rick Tucci, president of the United States Wrestling Officials Association, said Kelly's impact on the sport will not be forgotten.

"Mike was one of the instrumental members of starting the Weigh Master program and educated other officials to run weigh-ins," Tucci said. "He had the system down to a science and perfected it. He would have over 1,000 wrestlers in Fargo and get them weighed in during a 20-minute span. He was a good official and at one time was a FILA 1 Official, one step below an Olympic official. He played a major role in educating young officials.

"The wrestling world lost a good official, we lost a good person and we lost a good friend. The wrestling world, especially those who loved him, will always remember him. He was fun to be with and was always cracking a joke. He was always very supportive of the officials organization and USA Wrestling. I will miss Mike terribly."

Kelly is survived by his wife and son, John, who is a top official in the U.S. and is scheduled to work the World Team Trials on May 27-28 in Sioux City, Iowa.

"John will carry on the tradition his father started," Tucci said. "They had a real close, real special relationship."

Contributions to the Mike Kelly Memorial Fund may be sent to:
Mike Kelly Memorial Fund
Manatee High School
11 Hurricane Lane,
Bradenton, Florida, 34205