In 1996, when his family emigrated from Poland with hopes of a better life, 7 year old Adam Kownacki started life in America in a house on Russell Street and enrolled in P.S. 34. “We came in, didn’t speak the English language, we had a hard time adapting to the culture,” said younger brother Lukasz. And Greenpoint wasn’t like how it is now back then, according to Adam’s other brother Pawel. “It was rough. If you walked into the wrong part of the neighborhood, you got beat up.”

Adam was not only the new kid in town but also “heavyset” and became a target for bullying. Why would anyone pick on a big guy, I wondered. “I know a lot of big kids, they’re soft. They don’t want to hurt anybody so many people, as they do with adults, mistake kindness for weakness,” said Adam’s trainer Keith Trimble. Indeed, Adam Kownacki, nicknamed “Babyface” is soft-spoken and has a cherubic demeanor that belies his fierce fighting skills in the boxing ring – With two Golden Gloves, an undefeated record, and a string of knock-out wins, Adam is on his way towards being the first Polish-American heavyweight champion of the world.

“Welcome to Greenpoint, BK. Where we grew up is now part of our DNA. Whats your favorite memory?” (via Adam Kownacki’s Facebook Page)

Tomorrow (Saturday, September 8th) in the Barclay’s Center, Adam will have to beat former IBF heavyweight champion Charles Martin to get a step closer to that goal. He’s sincere when he says he’s ready but nervous and you can see how he’s captured the hearts of the Polish and Greenpoint community alike. We’re rooting for you, Babyface!

To watch the fight, buy tickets to the Barclay’s Center or tune into Showtime at 9pm ET.

Adam Kownacki and his brothers Lukasz and Pawel in front of their childhood home on Eckford Street
Strong family ties: Cousin Thomas Kielmanowiez (left), who also grew up in Greenpoint flew in from Texas for the fight. Younger brothers Lukasz (right) along with Pawel (not shown) actively support Adam
Posters of the upcoming Kownacki vs Martin fight is peppered throughout the neighborhood

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