A legend is brought to life.
Reviewed by John J. Raspanti
To unearth little known facts takes patience, perseverance, and a dogged desire. Adam J. Pollack has these attributes in abundance.
He proves it immediately in his latest opus, In the Ring With Jack Dempsey – Part I: The Making of a Champion.
On page five, Pollack writes:
“Dempsey was related to both the Hatfields and the McCoys, two families who were known for their bloody feud in West Virginia which electrified the country in 1882 and cost close to 20 lives amongst Dempsey’s relatives.”
Pollack’s research drives his book, providing the reader with multiple examples of Dempsey’s rise to heavyweight honors. The book is also loaded with a copious collection of photographs of Dempsey and his times.
Dempsey, born William Harrison Dempsey in Manassa, Co, the tenth child of Hiram and Celia, grew up poor, but proud. He realized early he liked to fight. His brother taught him the basics.
And so began the long haul to the top of the heavyweight division. Pollack documents them all. Dempsey’s rise is laborious. He fights often for little money. But he’s learning.
By age 19, Dempsey, by this time known as “Jack” – is making his name by knocking out opponents quickly.
Another aspect of the book I found fascinating was the number of managers the young Dempsey had. Pollack gives background information on these men, fleshing out what it was like to be an up-and-coming fighter over a century ago. Pollack also incorporates glimpses of American life and the boxing world during Dempsey’s rise up the rankings.
Did Dempsey take a dive against “Fireman” Jim Flynn in 1917? Could the iron-chinned future champion really have been knocked out in the first round? Pollack cites many examples of “maybe he did” and “maybe he didn’t” He leaves it up to the reader to decide.
When Dempsey finally secures a shot at champion Jess Willard, one can’t help but admire his determination and will to succeed, something that Pollock addresses. The author told me once that if his book is "Too much information, (552 pages) the reader could skip pages."
Trust me, don’t skip. In The Ring With Jack Dempsey – Part 1: The Making Of A Champion is the gold standard on “everything” Jack Dempsey.
Adam J. Pollack’s In the Ring With series on the heavyweight champions of the gloved era also includes books on John L. Sullivan, James J. Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons, James J. Jeffries, Marvin Hart, Tommy Burns, and Jack Johnson.
Pick up your copy at www.amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.