Scroll To Top
australian rowers profiles and history

Edward Kenny

Originally Leichhardt Rowing Club (NSW) whilst rowing then Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)

Ted Kenny is the most significant Australian rowing administrator of the first half of twentieth century. He was instrumental in the creation of what is now Rowing Australia Ltd and managed that organisation for over 30 years as a volunteer. He was also a sound and revered coach and selector.

Ted was both Hon Treasurer and Hon Secretary of Leichhardt Rowing Club before coming to Melbourne. His brother Arthur, who rowed in Leichhardt’s first champion four in 1914, was killed at Gallipoli. In Melbourne he became Captain of Mercantile Rowing Club and then onto many official roles with the Victorian Rowing Association.

Ted was the ultimate administrator as well as being an astute coach and selector. He tackled all administrative duties with enthusiasm and competence. The centenary history of Mercantile Rowing Club noted that: His tact and courtesy, coupled with his great knowledge of every aspect of rowing and its administration and his personal determination to achieve the highest standards, were instrumental in awakening pride in the conduct of the affairs of the Club. The 1919 Victorian rowing history by John Lang refers to Ted's contribution to the Victorian Rowing Association to 1919 as follows: Under the management of the present Hon. Sec., Mr. E. Kenny, the body has advanced and expanded in every way, so that its influence on the sport of rowing is far reaching and good.

 He was secretary to the Victorian Rowing Association, Australian Amateur Rowing Council and the Melbourne Henley Regatta Committee for many years and was also manager of numerous Victorian teams. After his death, an appeal was commenced to establish a memorial for his services to rowing. The memorial became the Kenny Medallions which are presented each year to the winning crew, cox and coach of the King’s Cup crew and the winning President’s Cup sculler.

Ted is perhaps best remembered for winning’ the King’s Cup’ the second time. After the AIF No 1 crew won the King’s Cup at the 1919 Henley Peace Regatta, the trophy was confiscated by the War Memorial Committee as a war trophy to be exhibited in the proposed new museum. It was regarded as a trophy of “National Significance”. The War Memorial Committee enlisted the support of the Minister of Defence Senator Pearce, Prime Minister Billy Hughes and eventually also the Governor-General for their claim. After two years of going through the correct channels and making compromises to achieve the desired result to have the Cup given to the rowers for their Interstate Championship, Ted gave up and prepared a petition to the King and had the stroke of the crew Captain Clive Disher sign it. He did not seek permission to do so and was one of those situations of better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Permission was subsequently granted.

It is your author’s view that the key clause in the petition was that so many Australian rowers had fought for the King. The King acceded to this request and in so doing went against the advice of his Ministers and his representative in Australia. There are many generations who are most grateful for this decision and for Kenny’s fine work.

Ted Kenny as Captain of Mercantile Rowing Club

Key rowing activities

1908 - Active rower with Mercantile Rowing Club

1909 – Honorary Secretary Victorian Rowing Association

1910 – Interstate Championships manager

1913 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector

1914 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector

1920 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship selector & manager

1921 – Interstate Championship manager

1922 – Interstate Championship manager

1923 – Interstate Championship manager

1926 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship co-coach – Third

1928 – Interstate Men’s Championships selector

1929 – Interstate Championship manager

1925-56 – Honorary Secretary of AARC – Inaugural Secretary/Treasurer of the Council.

1925-56 – Honorary Treasurer of the AARC

1925-56 – Councillor for Victoria on AARC

1932 – Olympic Games – selector

1935 - Elected Life Member of Mercantile Rowing Club

1936 – Olympic Games – selector

1938 – British Empire Games jury

1950 – British Empire Games – team manager

1954 – British Empire & Commonwealth Games – Assistant Manager of whole team

1956 – Olympic Games – Rowing course manager until his death in that year.

Andrew Guerin 
October 2010 (updated April 2019 and April 2024)

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management