Steven 'Bo' Keeley

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Steven Bo Keeley, born in February 1949,[1] is an American adventurer, naturalist, holistic healer, veterinarian, professional athlete, commodity market consultant, garage publisher, and executive tour guide, who in 2000 left civilization for a desert burrow in southern California, then, in 2009, became a world-traveling expatriate.[2]

A man and a small dog, with a red circle painted on a blue wall in the background.
Bo Keeley, photographed in the Andes

Early life[edit]

Keeley grew up in Idaho and Michigan, and graduated in 1972 with a DVM from Michigan State University (MSU).[3] His father was an electrical and later nuclear engineer, and mother a Welcome Wagon activist as the family moved through fifteen cities in as many years to settle in Jackson, Michigan.[4] Steven Keeley won the Jackson Junior Chess Championship, and, at MSU, multiple intramural sports championships for Farmhouse fraternity to place them first in the all-fraternity competition for the first time in 100 years. After veterinary school he moved to California where a bureaucratic licensing issue caused him to seek a sports career in professional racquetball and paddleball, in which he gained national prominence.[5]

Athletic career[edit]

Keeley was one of the top three racquetball players in the world from 1971 to 1976 and in the top ten until 1979, while winning seven NPA National Paddleball Titles. Keeley won the National Paddleball Singles Championship in 1971, 1973, 1974, 1976 and 1977. He captured the National Paddleball Doubles Championship in 1974 with Len Baldori and in 1976 with Andy Homa. Keeley was the second player in history to win a Professional Racquetball Tournament after Steve Serot, when he defeated Charlie Brumfield 21-8, 21-17 in the finals of the NRC Long Beach Pro Am in October 1973. Keeley won the Canadian National Racquetball Singles Championship in November 1974 defeating Bud Muehleisen in the final. Keeley won his last Professional Racquetball Title in 1980 defeating Marty Hogan 21-5, 21-6 in the finals of the Voight Championship in Los Angeles. During his racquetball career, he defeated every US National Singles Champion from 1968–82, and every professional champion of his era including ex-housemates Marty Hogan (Racquetball), Charlie Brumfield and Bud Muehleisen, as well as, Bill Schultz, Bill Schmidtke, Craig Finger, Davey Bledsoe and Mike Yellen.[6]

Bo Keeley in athlete years
Bo Keeley in his professional racquetball and paddleball years.

He became one of the game's foremost instructors[7] and an author during the 1970s golden era with approximately 100 articles published in Ace,[8] IRA Racquetball,[9] National Racquetball and other trade magazines. In 2002, he refused induction into the USRA Hall of Fame.[10][11] where incumbent inductees credited him with instructing their games. He was the 2003 racquetball historian and psychologist for the Legends pro tour,[12] and the same year co-invented (with Scott Hirsch) Hybrid Racquetball using a racquetball with wood paddleball paddles.[13]

He wrote what many have called the Bible of the sport, Complete Book of Racquetball (1976, 200,000 sold),[14] and opened racquetball doors in every state, Central and South America[15] with hundreds of clinics and exhibitions, once beating Miss World runner-up with a Converse tennis shoe in a Sports Illustrated exhibition, and others with a seven-inch mini-racquet.[16] Keeley was a stroke and strategy trendsetter, and the first apparel-sponsored pro, flaunting multicolored Converse Chucks tennis shoes. He was featured in Sports Illustrated[17] and other publications as an unusual combination of athlete, intellectual, and 'flake.'[18]

Also a California B-division handball champion, Keeley is the only player to consistently beat handball legend Paul Haber in mano a racqueta exhibitions.[19] He started a silent scholarship fund of personal prize money plus contributions to bring rising East Coast stars to train at the racquetball mecca, Gorham's Sports Center[20] in San Diego, California. In 2007 he was awarded the prestigious NPA Earl Riskey Trophy for contributions to the sport.[21] Inducted into the NPA Hall of Fame in 2014[22]

Author and publisher[edit]

Disenchanted toward the end of his career with a faster ball and oversized racquets, Keeley, in 1978, moved to an unheated garage on Lake Lansing, Michigan, in a one year's self-experiment including not blinking for 24-hours, sitting in a homemade sensory deprivation crate, a one-week water fast, reading books upside-down and mirror writing,[23] sleep deprivation, bladder control, induced color blindness, riding a bike for 24-hours, and developing fluent ambidexterity.[24]

He created a small publishing company, Service Press Inc., in the garage foyer and self-published two books in one day, It's a Racquet![25] and The Kill and Rekill Gang. He has written eight books on sport, travel, and the maverick personality, including the 2011 Keeley's Kures[26] of alternative treatments for common ailments from boxcars, veterinary medicine, and world healers,[27] while carrying on an informal e-mail practice.

American nomad[edit]

In the 1980s, Keeley started traveling, leading to many exceptional experiences: He rode a boxcar from Jacksonville, Florida, to New York and borrowed a suit to dine with George Soros at the Four Seasons Restaurant. He railed on 360 freight trains as a "boxcar tourist" through the US, Canada and Mexico, and taught and wrote the textbook Hobo Training Manual[28] for the first college sociology hobo class Hobo Life in America in 1985 at Lansing Community College.[29] The graduating class traveled to Britt, Iowa, for the National Hobo Convention.

During the late 1980s, "just for fun", he drove a Chevy van around the US with an invisible fish-line attached to a waving seven-foot stuffed rabbit riding next to him.[30] Some additional exceptional experiences include:

Executive 'Pronto' (Byron Mulver) taking a break during freight hoboing adventure ending 9/11/2001
Executive "Pronto" taking a break during Keeley-organized freight hoboing adventure ending 9/11/2001

In 1988 he guided a San Francisco Chronicle journalist to Mt. Shasta for a story that won "Bay Area Best Sunday Feature".[35] Later, a 2001 epic along the First Transcontinental Railroad with four executives ended on 9/11/2001.[36] In 2005 he crossed Canada by rail[37] with South African accountant Tom "Diesel" Dyson,[38] and later that year the pair, disguised as Mexicans, rode atop freights with Central American immigrants[39] through Mexico to the border, where the US Border Patrol apprehended them swimming the Rio Grande with expired Mexican visas.[40]

In the 1980s he was regularly in the National Hobo Association Los Angeles clubhouse and contributed to their Hobo Times newsletter.[41] In 2010, Fort Worth Weekly Peter Gorman's "Renaissance on the Rails" profile won 1st place for the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies best feature of the year.[42]


In the mid-1990s, Keeley turned to commodities where his financial Low-Life Indicators[43] gathered around the world—such as cigarette butts being shorter in a down market—were seriously considered by Wall Street investors and the press.[44] He espoused his analytical methods at global banking seminars[45] and he rode boxcars to speak on hobo economics at the 1985 Aspen Eris Society[46] and the 1995 New York Junto.[47]

A 1997 13-country tour to identify investment opportunities in emerging markets for speculator Victor Niederhoffer earned millions in Turkey,[48] but in the Black Friday, October 27, 1997, mini-crash losses from buying Thai bank stocks that had fallen heavily in the Asian financial crisis combined with a 554-point single day decline of the Dow Index (the second largest decline to date in index history) forced the company to close its doors for a year, and The New Yorker took a swat at Keeley.[49]

World traveler[edit]

Bo Keeley's unconventional life situation has resulted in numerous adventures, several noted in online publications online or in print: For example, Daily Speculations,[50] International Man,[51] Liberty (1987), The Coffee Coaster[52] and Swans Magazine have documented many of his exploits such as:

American folk artist Linda Mears features seven of his exploits in Adventure Art (1996).[56] One painting called 'African Safari' where Keeley suffering cerebral malaria was nearly mauled by a lion, is sold as a jigsaw puzzle.[57]

Iconic individualist[edit]

Keeley earned a psychology technical degree in 1985 from Lansing Community College, followed by one year of volunteer work in six psychiatric wards and senior living facilities to study the developing mind. Keeley has been called 'one of the greatest individualists in America.'[58] In 2007, he founded Executive Tour Services[59] as a businessmen's Outward Bound on the American rails and hikes to Spanish missions in Baja California.

"My life follows the vicissitudes of Buck the Dog in Jack London's Call of the Wild," he once explained, "From comfortable back yards across America, boxcars on every major railroad, 100+ countries under a backpack, hiking the lengths of Florida, Colorado, Vermont, California, Death Valley, and Baja, Mexico, to finally semi-retire and write my memoirs in a dessert burrow in California."[60] (Long a devotee of grand storyteller Louis L'Amour, Keeley's hikes through the American West also led him to become an ardent fan of celebrated contemporary 'Western' writer Cathy Luchetti and her poignant, realistic portraits of pioneer life—such as Women of the West, Children of the West, Men of the West, and Home on the Range: A culinary history of the American West.)

The burrow lies one mile east of the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range where a 2008 near-miss caved the entry that he shored with old mine timbers.[61] Keeley was the resident advisor to neighbor Phil Garlington's book, Rancho Costa Nada: The Dirt Cheap Homestead.[62] In 2007, he became the first California substitute teacher to be fired for trying to prevent a playground 'skirmish.'[63] He left to ride the rails, and then became an itinerant expatriate writing from select exotic locations including Iquitos, Peru,[64] San Felipe, Baja California,[65] and Lake Toba, Sumatra.[66]


Bo Keeley has written the following books:

  • Keeley, Steven, The Complete Book of Racquetball, DBI, 1976, ISBN 0-695-80651-3
  • Keeley, It's a Racquet, Service Press Inc., 1978, ISBN 0-931824-02-8
  • Keeley, Racquetball Lessons Made Easy, McDonald Pub., 1976
  • Keeley and Shannon Wright, Women's Book of Racquetball, Contemporary Books, 1980, ISBN 0-8092-7064-1
  • Keeley, Stroke Minder Racquetball Flip Book Series, Stroke Minder Pub.,1978
  • Keeley and Debbie Ravens, The Kill & Rekill Gang (Cartoon book), Service Press Inc. 1978
  • Keeley, Steven Bo, Hobo Training Manual, Burrow Books, 1986.
  • Keeley, Steven Bo, Keeley's Kures, Free Man Publishing Co., 2011 (
  • Keeley, Steven Bo, Executive Hobo: Riding the American Dream, Free Man Publishing Co., 2011 (
  • Keeley, Steven, Charlie Brumfield: King of Racquetball, Service Press, 2013.
  • Keeley, Steven, Women Racquetball pioneers, Service Press, 2013.
  • Keeley, Bo, The Longest Walk Companion: With George Meagon, Service Press, 2013.
  • Keeley, Steven Bo, Racquetball's Best: Pros Speak from the Box, Service Press, 2014.
  • Keeley, Bo, Stories from Iquitos, Service Press, 2014.
  • Keeley, Steven Bo, Greatest Photos Around the World, Service Press, 2014.
  • Keeley, Steven Bo, Chess and Sport, Service Press, 2014.
  • Keeley, Steven Bo, Book of Bo: Gems of My Life, Service Press, 2015.
  • Keeley, Steven Bo, Book of Bo: More Gems of My Life, Service Press, 2015.
  • Keeley, Steven Bo, James Hydrick in Photos, Service Press, 2015.
  • Keeley, Bo, Hobo Moments: 30 Years in Pictures, Service Press, 2015.
  • Keeley, Steven, Advanced Racquetball, Service Press, 2015.
  • Keeley, Steven Bo, Bill Schultz: Ringmaster of Sport, Service Press, 2016.
  • Keeley, Steven Bo, Elvis' Humor: Girls, Guns & Guitars, Service Press, 2016.
  • Keeley, Steven Bo, Slab City: Tales from an Outlaw Town, Slab Press, 2017.


The following show some of the primary online publication sources for much of Dr. Keeley's literary output:

External links[edit]


  1. ^ '1993 Steve Keeley', Michigan Hall of Fame[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Shay, Art, 'On Burrowed Time', August 10, 2009, Swans Commentary
  3. ^ Perry, Rachael, "'U' Alumnus Shares Tales of World", State News, 1996
  4. ^ 'Bo Keeley Timeline', Daily Speculations
  5. ^ 'NPA National Singles Champions', NPA website
  6. ^ 'US National Men's Singles', Sports History "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-03. Retrieved 2011-06-05. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Jim Kaplan, 'McKay has a new racquet', April 14, 1980, Sports Illustrated
  8. ^ 'Court Shorts Trivia', SUHA website,com_acajoom/act,mailing/task,view/listid,14/mailingid,968/Itemid,412/ Archived 2011-07-28 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Racquetball Magazine, Writer's Weekly
  10. ^ 'History of the National Racquetball Hall of Fame', USRA Hall of Fame, USA Racquetball
  11. ^ 'The History of Racquetball', Racquetball Depot "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-12-31. Retrieved 2015-01-11. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ 'The Classics Professional Racquetball Tour' CPRT website
  13. ^ 'Update on Pro-Paddleball', NPA Newsletter, Winter 2010
  14. ^ Keeley, Steven, The Complete Book of Racquetball, DBI, 1976, ISBN 0-695-80651-3
  15. ^ National Racquetball cover, Vol. 13, No. 8, August 1976 Archived 2012-11-09 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Racquetball Illustrated cover, April 1982 Archived 2012-11-09 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Yost, 'He Found His Racquet', Sports Illustrated, November 19, 1979
  18. ^ Brinks, Bill, 'Hall of fame honor for racquetball legend', Georgia Sports, October 18, 2010
  19. ^ Levin, Dan, 'The Great Mano A Raqueta', Sports Illustrated, February 7, 1972
  20. ^ George, Chelsea, 'Tournament House', Racquetball Magazine, Vol. 14, No. 6, December 2003, p. 1 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-03-27. Retrieved 2011-06-05. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ 'Major Awards to Keeley...', NPA Newsletter, 2006, p. 5
  22. ^
  23. ^ Niederhoffer, Victor, Education of a Speculator, John Wiley & Sons, 1996, p. 75, ISBN 0-471-13747-2
  24. ^ 'Bladder Cross-Training in a Michigan Garage', Keeley, Swans Commentary, March 28, 2011
  25. ^ It's a Racquet, Keeley, Service Press, 1978, ISBN 0-931824-02-8
  26. ^ Keeley, Steven Bo, Keeley's Kures, Free Man Pub., 2011
  27. ^ Keeley, 'My Retirement Crate', Daily Speculations, October 24, 2009
  28. ^ Keeley, Bo, Hobo Life in America: Training Manual, Burrow Books, 1986
  29. ^ Keeley, "Hobo Class", Daily Speculations, October 19, 2006
  30. ^ Yost, "He Found His Racquet", Sports Illustrated (photo of rabbit), November 19, 1979
  31. ^ "Stanley Mason", Inventors
  32. ^ Kenner, Laurel and Niederhoffer, Practical Speculation, John Wiley & Sons, p. 282, ISBN 0-471-67774-4
  33. ^ Wiswell, Tom, "Checkers Proverbs by Wiswell", Checkers Chest
  34. ^ Shay, Art, "Shay on Mentors", CHICAGOist, February 16, 2011
  35. ^ "Keeley Timeline", Daily Speculations
  36. ^ Keeley, 'Executive Hobos and 9/11', North Bank Fred's Stories
  37. ^ "The Rails Sing 'Eh'", Keeley, North Bank Fred's Stories
  38. ^ Dyson, Tom, '12% Letter Reviews' May 11, 2008 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2011-06-05. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  39. ^ Keeley, "Everyone Wins Mexican Style", Swans Commentary, October 4, 2010
  40. ^ Dyson, Tom, "Latin Like Me", North Bank Fred's Stories
  41. ^ Alexander, Jack, "Stupid Yuppies make big bucks & live like hobos", World Weekly News, December 25, 1990, p. 32.
  42. ^ Zaragoza, Jason, "First Place: Fort Worth Weekly, Renaissance on the Rails by Peter Gorman", AltWeekly Awards 2010, Association of American Newsweeklies, July 16, 2010
  43. ^ Niederhoffer, Victor, Education of a Speculator, John Wiley & Sons, 1996, p. 404, ISBN 0-471-13747-2
  44. ^ 'Wall Street Gambler Niederhoffer Intuits Millions with Hobo's Help', New York Observer, 3-21-97
  45. ^ Scott, Gary A., 'The secret characters of Gary Scott', 2008
  46. ^ 'List of Speakers', Eris Society Website Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine
  47. ^ NYC Junto Website
  48. ^ Gopinath, Depak, 'Niederhoffer Humbled by '97 Blowup, Posts 56% Return', Bloomberg, May 31, 2006
  49. ^ Cassidy, John, "Blowup Artist", New Yorker, October 15, 2007, page 7
  50. ^ 'Keeley Stories at Daily Speculations'
  51. ^ International Man[full citation needed]
  52. ^
  53. ^ Keeley, 'Dollar an Inch of Skin,' Liberty, January 1996 Liberty Magazine 9.3 - Liberty Publishing - Mises Institute
  54. ^ Shay, Art, 'Amazon Walker', Swans Commentary
  55. ^ Perry, Rachael, "'U' Alumnus Shares Tales of World", State News, 1996
  56. ^ 'Table for ten- Catman Keeley', 'Linda Mears: Featured Artist', Art Quest, February 1998 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-16. Retrieved 2011-06-05. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  57. ^ Mears, Linda, 'African Safari' picture puzzle
  58. ^ Kenner, Laurel, 'Nature Brochure', 2001
  59. ^ Executive Tour Services website
  60. ^ Keeley, 'I'm beginning to think like them', Swans Commentary, February 28, 2011
  61. ^ Shay, 'From the Vault of Art Shay- Mentors among the Raptors' (Photo of 1000-lb bomb), CHICAGOist, February 16, 2011[permanent dead link]
  62. ^ Garlington, Phil, Rancho Costa Nada: The Dirt-Cheap Desert Homestead, Loompanics, 2003
  63. ^ Keeley, 'Letter to the Honorable Schwarzenegger', Daily Speculations, December 12, 2007
  64. ^ Keeley, 'How to start a new life in the Amazon in one day for $75', Daily Speculations, September 16, 2009
  65. ^ Keeley, 'Laissez Faire and the Depression', Swans Contemporary, June 26, 2010
  66. ^ Keeley, 'On the Heels of Darwin in Sumatra', International Man, March 11, 2011