Few have shared the ring with Muhammad Ali or been praised by the New York Times as “one of America’s top industrialists,” but Harry Kessler accomplished both.

As a teenager, Kessler heard “fabulous stories of mining adventures in far-flung corners of the work world” from his sister’s boyfriend who was an MSM student. The St. Louis native, who boxed in high school, started the university’s boxing program and became a referee after earning a bachelor’s degree in metallurgy in 1924.

Kessler co-invented an improved metal casting process and consulted for nearly 50 foundries around the country. According to a 1955 article in the New York Times, he emerged as “the No. 1 foundry trouble-shooter in the nation.” And in 1979, he received the Albert Einstein award for technical innovation.

Kessler was known by millions of boxing fans as a referee on the nationally televised “Friday Night Fights” from Madison Square Garden in New York.  Among his more than 150 televised boxing matches, Kessler refereed 15 world title bouts, including two of Muhammad Ali’s. He was the first non-boxer elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame.

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