“I lay it all out there so that readers can look back, experience the era, and draw their own conclusions about these fighters’ careers with new and better-informed perspectives.”
Adam J. Pollack
By John J. Raspanti
As a boxing historian, referee, judge, and publisher, Adam Pollack eats, drinks, and sleeps boxing.
Oh, and he has his own law firm as well.
Somehow, Pollack still finds time to write. In 2006, he published his first work, a well-received biography of the first gloved heavyweight champion of the world, John L. Sullivan. Pollack since has followed the line of each successive heavyweight champion.
His accounts of the ring exploits of champions James J. Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons, James J. Jeffries, Marvin Hart, Tommy Burns, and two ambitious volumes on Jack Johnson, all have garnered very positive reviews. Pollack now is well-known for his "In the Ring With" series of books.
Pollack’s books are loaded with the kind of detailed information most boxing fans can only dream about.
His thirst for boxing knowledge started at a very young age.
"I was fascinated with boxing history and with old-time fights on video," Pollack said.
"I enjoyed watching complete fights, and wanted to see more. I read books to try to fill in the gaps. However, I often found that books overlooked many fights, did not provide the detailed descriptions and discussions that I sought, and did not sufficiently use or cite primary sources. There was reliance on too many secondary anecdotal stories that might contain more fiction than truth."
Pollack’s books take the reader back to when his subject was in the ring. This is the best way, he says, to understand the fighter, and the times.
"I lay it all out there so that readers can look back, experience the era, and draw their own conclusions about these fighters’ careers with new and better-informed perspectives."
"In writing these books, my goal was to rely on several local next-day news reports so that readers can enjoy the stories as they took place, and from the multiple perspectives of those who actually saw the fight and immediately gave their fresh impressions, untainted by a great deal of time," he replied.
The author has no favorite of among his books. Nevertheless, he does feel a certain pride when his writing changes a reader’s perception.
Pollack felt it was logical to begin his series with “The Boston Strong Boy” John L. Sullivan, the first professional fighter who brought money and fans to boxing.
"Since John L. Sullivan was the one who started gloved Queensberry rules boxing on its path as a big-time money-making enterprise that was one of the two or three most popular sports in the world, and perhaps the most financially lucrative of all for the participants, it seemed logical to start with him," he said.
"I am happy to have changed the opinions of many about Sullivan’s skills and ability, and corrected the impression that he primarily was a bare-knuckle fighter."
Pollack’s respect for boxing’s founding fathers runs deep. Although he is passionate about all things boxing, Pollack’s day job takes him outside the ring and into a courtroom as a defense attorney in Iowa City, Iowa.
What is it about the history of boxing that fascinates him so?
"Those early boxing pioneers were just phenomenal. Any pugilist who can endure several hours of fighting in a fight to the finish, or even a 20-round bout, getting hit with five-ounce gloves, and fighting as often as they did, has to be seriously tough, well-conditioned, and skilled in a special way which is now somewhat foreign and dead art to most fighters," he said.
"I look back and appreciate them, as do those who still enjoy reading about fighters of the past."
Another goal of Pollack’s was to bring something unique to his volumes’ writing.
"Most of these fighters have had books written about them, so I felt the need to add something that makes my books unique,” he remarked. "I think those who have read them will agree that I have accomplished that. I’d like to thank all of the many historians who share my passion who have helped make this endeavor possible. Illuminating the truth about and full picture of boxing history matters to many of us, dying breed though we may be."
Look for Pollack’s latest, In the Ring With Jack Dempsey - Part I: The Making of a Champion, available next week on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and various web booksellers.
You also can visit the Win By KO Publications facebook page (facebook.com/winbykopublications) or website (winbykopublications.com).