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When it Comes to Boxing, Adam Pollack is the Foremost Jack-of-all-Trades

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  • When it Comes to Boxing, Adam Pollack is the Foremost Jack-of-all-Trades

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    By Arne K. Lang

    The world of prizefighting is braced by men with a wide range of skills, but rarely has there been a jack-of-all-trades as versatile as Adam Pollack. At various times a coach, a cornerman, a manager, and a promoter, and now a judge and a referee, Pollack also is a prolific author and a one-man book publishing house, and he does it all while balancing a career as a criminal defense attorney. If he were a cartoon character, he would be the Energizer Bunny.

    Pollack was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, earned his undergraduate degree at UC-Santa Barbara and attended law school at the University of Iowa College of Law in Iowa City, where he now resides. An epiphany of sorts in his obsession with prizefighting came when he stumbled on a copy of “Legendary Champions” at a video store in the 1980s. The documentary, ladled with footage from old films gathered from the inventory of Big Fights Inc., the company founded by Jim Jacobs and Bill Cayton, inspired Adam to dig deeper into the sport’s rich history. He began by collecting videos of old fights and trading with other aficionados.

    “I found boxing to be fascinating on so many levels,” he says, “and wanted to get involved in boxing in some capacity.” To this end, in the late 1990s, he spent a summer as an intern at Top Rank’s headquarters in Las Vegas.

    Outside of Iowa, Pollack is best known for his publishing house, Win By KO Publications. The web site currently lists 23 titles, 10 of which are books that Pollack himself authored. All of the books are non-fiction, save for “Death in Vegas,” a novel by Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

    The rich history of boxing is muddled by old books bespattered with false information. “The authors may have done the best they could given the limited resources they had to tap into,” said Pollack in a conversation with author Thomas Hauser, “but these old books are filled with errors.” And what about autobiographies of famous old-time prizefighters? “Most…are self-serving and wildly inaccurate,” says Pollack.

    Boxing history books published in the 21st century tend to have more integrity because the technological revolution has made it possible to access primary sources such as old next-day newspapers rather than relying on second-hand reports. In this same vein, record-keepers in the digital age (think “boxrec”) are more fastidious than their counterparts of yesteryear who, with less resources at their disposal, produced record books that could best be called sketchy, leaving holes in the careers of antiquarian prizefighters, even title-holders.

    Someone once said that the only good history is revisionist history, and Adam Pollack would undoubtedly say “amen” to that. Misinformation and lack of information inspired him to set forth on a journey to write the true history of several early heavyweight champions. The lives of Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey were such that Pollack was unable to confine their stories to a single volume. He currently is working on Part Two of the Dempsey saga, which he hopes to complete by the end of the year.

    Pollack’s books and other biographies in the Win By KO catalog are so meticulously detailed that they can fairly be called definitive. For example, future historians who want to learn more about the great Brazilian boxer Eder Jofre need look no further than Christopher Smith’s biography. It’s 606 pages long with hundreds of rare photographs. The book is being translated into Portuguese; the language spoken by the vast majority of people in Brazil.

    Among works in progress, Pollack is especially enthused by Joe Botti’s forthcoming book on the Gatti brothers, Arturo and Joe. “It’s a great read,” says Pollack, “meticulously researched.” This book too will clock in at more than 600 pages.

    Would-be authors should understand that there is a limited market for boxing history books. “Is there some money to be made? Yes, but you won’t retire on it,” he says. “I’m not giving up my day job.”

    The boxing literature is replete with hypotheticals. For example, could Jim Jeffries have defeated Jack Johnson if Jeffries had been in his prime when they fought? Adam Pollack would seem to be more qualified than anyone to address this question.

    “Jim Jeffries in his prime was very good and, yes, he could have succeeded in other eras,” says Pollack, deflecting the question. “I believe that a great fighter today could go back to the old days and compete successfully and vice versa. Some will do better than others. All fighters tailor their style to the rules in effect in their era. However, I hate hypotheticals. There are so many confounding variables when comparing fighters from different eras. What type of gloves? How many rounds? What was the scoring criteria? Who was the referee?”

    Pollack refereed his first professional fight in 2014. He has been on TV several times, including several “ShoBox” cards on Showtime, and has shared the ring with rising stars like Jaron “Boots” Ennis, Zhilei Zhang, Frank Sanchez, Brandun Lee, Gary Antuanne Russell, Michel Rivera, and Joseph George.

    “Would I like to referee a world title fight someday? Absolutely,” he says, and still in his 40s, he has plenty of time to realize that goal.

    Aside from being immersed in the sport in various capacities, Pollack is also a fan and, like most fans, he is frustrated that so many of the best match-ups don’t happen until one or both fighters is past his prime. “Pro football and pro basketball are so big because at the end of every season, the two best teams compete,” he says. He doesn’t need to elaborate.

    To learn more about the “Win By KO” publishing house and its various offerings, click here: All of the books can be ordered from Barnes and Noble or from Amazon, the leading on-line booksellers.

  • #2
    No one pays more attention to detail than Adam. He is truly amazing.


    • #3
      Several years ago Pollack approached me online about doing something for him but for the life of me I can’t recall what it was. I got the impression he’s a real go-getter and he really is. 👍