Recently, heavyweight boxer Adam ‘Babyface’ Kownacki has generated a lot of local excitement. The Polish-born, but Greenpoint bred, Konwacki is 19- 0 in his professional career. A huge contingent of locals showed up to support Kownacki in his last match in the Barclay’s Center. Kownacki continued to climb up the heavyweight rankings by earning a second-round TKO victory over former title challenger Gerald Washington (19-3-1, 12 KOs). The talented Kownacki is only the latest in a long tradition of excellent North Brooklyn boxers. The first local champion boxer dates to the era after the Civil War when prizefighting was still illegal.
Williamsburg Civil War hero and bare-knuckle fighter Sam Collyer won both the Medal of Honor and a lightweight world championship in the days after the War Between the States, but Collyer was a puncher and not a boxer. He won a few title defenses in the 1860s, but was later embarrassed in the ring by perhaps the greatest local fighter, McAuliffe in an 1888 match staged in a local theater, in which McAuliffe humiliated the former champ with his technical boxing prowess. Continue reading →
Greenpoint’s very own heavyweight boxing contender Adam ‘Babyface’ Kownacki was victorious with a 2nd round TKO against former title challenger Gerald Washington (19-3-1, 12 KOs) in the co-main event at the Barclays Center that took place last Saturday night. Babyface improved his record to 19-0 with 15 KOs and continues his climb up the rankings. Check out the final punches of the match:
Kownacki was born in Lomza, Poland and at the age of seven moved to Greenpoint with his parents. In an interview with Sporting News, Kownacki said the local Polish community helped him adapt while his father worked long hours to support his family. Four years ago Kownacki moved his family to Long Island where he purchased a house.
“Luckily, I moved to Greenpoint, which had a big Polish community at the time, so it was much easier to adapt, but English was a second language, so it was hard,” Kownacki said. “My dad worked nights, he slept during the day, so we really didn’t get to spend time with him because he was at work. So, it wasn’t easy, but we managed. Eventually, he did construction — a little better paying job — so, we managed.”
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. Continue reading →
If you’ve ever taken a run around McCarren Park track, the chances are you’ll know Kiki. Kiki Morris has been a regular fixture at the northwest corner of the track for almost 18 years and is one of the most well-loved figures in the neighborhood. He trains people in the park every day of the week and is greeted by pretty much everyone who passes by. Mothers with strollers come up and say hi, NYPD cars slow down on Driggs to honk and wave, shirtless muscle-rippling joggers remove their earbuds and stop for a chat, and little kids run over and high-five him. It’s no wonder he’s earned himself the unofficial title of Mayor of McCarren and the official title of Village Voice’s ‘best outdoor personal trainer in NYC’. Continue reading →