Tracy Callis
The Career of the First Gloved Heavyweight Champion
By Adam J. Pollack

Adam J. Pollack has published his book, John L. Sullivan: The Career of the First Gloved Heavyweight Champion, and it is a splendid piece of work. The book focuses on the boxing career of the great fighter and contains many fight details never before included in Sullivan biographies. This reader was thoroughly impressed. As a result of this book, I will update my Sullivan record on the Cyber Boxing Zone.

Clearly, the work is well researched and provides great detail. In some cases, where newspaper articles report fight descriptions somewhat differently, Mr. Pollack has included round by round comments from each source to accurately tell how the fight transpired, giving multiple perspectives. Just as fans today can read modern fight accountings that differ, Pollack enables the reader to experience a plethora of different analyses and perspectives for Sullivan’s bouts, enriching the overall story.

Pollack is good at bringing the fighters to life, discussing their histories and experiences. He also provides pre and post fight analyses of major bouts. Quotes are liberally used to give readers a feel for how Sullivan fought and how his skills and ability were perceived. He provides useful insight into the rules at play and how legal obstacles affected the fights.

In addition to fight descriptions and results, anecdotes surrounding the fights and fighters are reported. These, as in most biographies, serve to inform readers as to Sullivan's personality and the type of individual he was.

Followers of the sport as well as historians will find it an interesting and informative account of John L. The book will surely become a major source of facts regarding the powerful slugger. It is truly unique.

For those of us who are strong boxing fans and care about actual fight goings-on, this book is a "must" read.
I enjoyed reading it and will go through it many times more, I am sure. It is well constructed too - nice design and layout, good photo images too - excellent work !

Adam J. Pollack is a staff writer for the Cyber Boxing Zone, is vice chair of USA Boxing’s National Board of Review and a member of the Women’s Subcommittee. He is also a boxing coach and attorney living in Iowa City, Iowa.

The publisher is McFarland & Company, Jefferson, North Carolina. The book can be ordered from this website -> 
The preface can be viewed -> 



John L. Sullivan
The Career of the First Gloved Heavyweight Champion
Adam J. Pollack

ISBN 0-7864-2558-X
41 photographs, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
254pp. softcover (7 x 10) 2006

Essentially the last of the bare-knuckle heavyweight champions, John L. Sullivan was instrumental in the acceptance of gloved fighting. His charisma and popular appeal during this transitional period contributed greatly to making boxing a nationally popular, “legitimate” sport. Sullivan became boxing’s first superstar and arguably the first of any sport.

From his first match in the late 1870s through his final championship fight in 1892, this biography contains a thoroughly researched, detailed accounting of John L. Sullivan’s boxing career. With special attention to the 1880s, the decade during which Sullivan came to prominence, it follows Sullivan’s skill development and discusses his opponents and fights in detail, providing various viewpoints of a single event. Beginning with a discussion of early boxing practices, the sport itself is placed within sociological, legal and historical contexts including anti–prize fighting laws and the so-called “color line.” A complete record of Sullivan’s career is also included.

Callis description --

Sullivan was a boxing immortal, the link between bare knuckles and glove fighting, and the first great American sports idol; He was powerful, quick, could hit with either hand but had exceptional strength in his right, and could take punishment; John L. could break a man's jaw with a single punch

He is still considered by some historians to be one of the best heavyweights ever; Sullivan was inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990

Review courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization

[Return to Top]