Christopher LaForce
By Adam J. Pollack

This is the fourth book by Adam J. Pollack in his terrific series of the heavyweight boxing champions, and in my humble opinion, it is his best yet! The work comprises close to 700 pages and is jam-packed with little-known facts, anecdotes and fresh perspective on perhaps the greatest champion of them all, James J. Jeffries, "The California Grizzly." I believe it to be the most concise, comprehensive and simply the best account of this magnificent fighter's career in the ring. It is an absolutely indispensable addition to the boxing library of every historian and boxing fan alike. To say that I highly recommend it is a definite understatement! I just hope he continues his series on the heavyweights.

Had Jeffries not made his ill-advised one-fight, 1910 "comeback" after a six-year layoff, and lost to reigning champion, Jack Johnson, the general boxing aficionado would today have a much greater appreciation of this great champion, who had retired undefeated with the heavyweight title in 1904. Adam's account, however, illustrates just how incredible a fighter and athlete Jeffries, "The Boilermaker," truly was. The volume is meticulously researched, drawing from hundreds of contemporary newspaper accounts. It also delineates "Jeff's" strengths, weaknesses and fighting style, as well as those of his opponents. Thorough and descriptive background is given, not only of the fighters involved, but also of the other participants, the arenas and cities. It is a nice slice of that era that is dished out, making one feel a part of the proceedings. Although as a fellow boxing historian I am a keen student of that same era, the "Victorian Age" and "Gaslight Era," I learned many new facts about Jim Jeffries that I had not known previously, but can say I was never bored in reading the book. All in all, this book, in my opinion, is a masterwork!

Adam J. Pollack is a staff writer for the Cyber Boxing Zone, chair of USA Boxing’s Judicial and Rules and Regulations Committees, a boxing coach, and an attorney living in Iowa City, Iowa.

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In The Ring With James J. Jeffries
Adam J. Pollack

over 100 photographs, 924 footnotes and an index
688 pp. hardcover 2009

This is  Adam Pollack's 4th book in his heavyweight champion series. It describes in meticulous detail James Jeffries' bouts from the 1890s up to 1905 (including round by round accounts as well as pre- and post-fight analysis), his opponents, and his training regimen. It discusses the time's heavyweight scene, including contenders, pre-fight hype and negotiations, political and legal obstacles, and the color line. Chapters also include descriptions and analysis of Corbett-Sharkey II, Fitzsimmons-Ruhlin, Fitz-Sharkey II, and Corbett-McCoy, as well as controversies surrounding several bouts. The book is based on next-day local newspaper accounts, comparing and contrasting their descriptions and analysis in order to provide an authentic view of how heavyweight boxing was perceived at the time. The use of local primary sources gives readers a rare opportunity to relive Jeffries' career as if they were reading about it at the time he was fighting. The book also includes Jeffries' career record, $42.95.

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Table of Contents
  Preface: The Undeniable Talent  5
  1. Foundation of Strength: Establishing a Local Reputation  6
  2. Hank Griffin and the Professional Hiatus  12         
  3. It Wasn't Long  21
  4. Sparring with the Champion  27        
  5. Driving the Van Downtown  49                
  6. How the Baker Got His Goose Cooked  55                
  7. The Closer  60
  8. The Master Veteran  70                  
  9. No Show  90          
10. The Legend  99                  
11. Mexican Pete  111
12. The Shark 120
13. The Cost of High Expectations  142
14. A Strange Ending        160
15. Road to the Crown  185
16. The Championship  215          
17. Exhibition Tour  250
18. A Snag in Preparation  262
19. Reaching Deep Into the Inferno  281
20. The Impact of Film  324
21. A Thriving Sport Under Attack  335
22. The Road to Corbett  344
23. Trial of Will  363
24. The Bevy of Battles as the Horton Era Ends -
       Ruhlin, Sharkey, and Fitzsimmons  399
25. Hell Hath No Fury…  433
26. Boxing's Old Nemesis  450
27. Getting Sharp Again - Griffin and Kennedy  462
28. The Road to Ruhlin  475        
29. Ruling Ruhlin  486
30. On the Horizon  501
31. Championship Training  513
32. The War, the Bandages, and the Speaking Knockdown  524
33. Media Creation or Legitimate Performance?  557
34. Building the Intrigue  578
35. Leaving No Doubt  597
36. Justifying Challenges  619
37. Setting the Record Straight  634
38. Leaving the Game  655
Appendix: James J. Jeffries' Record  667        
Acknowledgments  680
Index  681

Review courtesy of Chrisopher LaForce, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization

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