Boxing Snippets

Ring announcer, Duncan Pollock, reflects on more than two decades behind the microphone.

There are two ring announcers in the world of boxing that have become as famous as some of the sports’ biggest stars. They are, of course, Michael Buffer and Jimmy Lennon Jr. but our own Duncan Pollock has, over the years, commanded more than his fair share of the spotlight.
In fact, he could arguably be the greatest South African ring announcer of all time..
With his classic, no frills delivery style he has introduced a legion of fans to many big-name fighters and announced quite a few unexpected results that changed the course of boxing history.
It is a journey that began in the mid-nineties for Pollock when he was working at the Carousel. “Carousel was the boxing Mecca that took over from Sun City. I started working at the Carousel on the 1st of April 1996 of all days,” Pollock explains. “I worked in the marketing department as the MC of the casino, doing promotions on the casino floor. They put up that marquee tent for the big fights and we helped with the organizing, labeling chairs, putting buckets in the ring, working as ushers. There was a guy called Dennis Dovale, who was doing the MC work for Supersport and coincidentally I happened to have worked with Dennis before at a radio station called ‘Solid Gold.’ I saw what he did, and I thought to myself, ‘I’m sure I can do this.’ I was working on a Saturday anyway so I thought I might as well make some extra money.”
There were a few hoops to jump through though. “I had a chat to (the late) Shona McTaggart. She went on the casino floor and had a listen to what I did. She then set up an audition for me with Boxing South Africa. I think it was in the Wembley Arena in Joburg where I had to audition and, as a result of that, I got a license. It was literally two or three weeks after that when Dennis couldn’t work and Shona asked me to stand in for him at a fight in the Cheyenne Saloon. Following that came a world title fight in the marquee. That was more than twenty years ago and here I still am,” he recalls fondly. He cannot recall who fought in the saloon, but that world title fight ‘if memory serves’ was Vuyani Bungu’s 11th IBF Title defence against Ernesto Grey.’
There is a lot more to ring announcing than meets the eye and it has its own set of challenges. “Getting all my information together before the Supersport program starts!” he chuckles when asked about his biggest headache. “Obviously, I get the fight card initially from Shona and now from Jeff (Ellis). I would then go and check all the records and write up my little cue cards. Then I try and get there about an hour and half before and go to all dressing rooms, make sure I am pronouncing the guy’s name correctly, find out if he has got any nicknames that he wants. Find out if there is stuff that I did not pick up on. Maybe he has a big amateur record, couple of Commonwealth titles, went to the Olympics, that sort of stuff. Then from the BSA guys, obviously all the weights from the weigh-in, who is judging and refereeing and if there is a title fight, who the international supervisor is. If there are international judges, I also want to know where they are from. I think it adds a bit of color.”
Does he ever have any butterflies? “Once the show starts, I am quite comfortable but there is always a bit of anxiety over whether I got everything but once I do, I’m usually quite cool. Once it gets going its muscle memory for want of a better word.”
The biggest fight he has worked? “I think, without a doubt, it would have been the Lennox Lewis-Hasim Rahman fight. That was the biggest fight by far, you couldn’t compare anything to that. It was actually quite nice to see it all come together and be part of the whole production in the early hours of the morning. Being on HBO was also quite cool.”
Not originally a boxing fan, he started to enjoy the sport and has gotten more and more into it over the years. He speaks fondly about some of the fighters. He remembers the late WBO heavyweight champion, Corrie Sanders, as a funny guy. “One thing he always said to me (in Afrikaans), ‘Duncan weet jy wat né? Ek kry dieselfde geld, of dit nou die eerste ronde is of die twaalfde, so hoe vinniger hoe beter.’ You start building a bit of a repertoire with the fighters which is nice. One of the okes I ended up having quite a nice relationship with when he was still fighting was Lehlohonolo Ledwaba. Really just a salt of the earth type of guy and in my view one of the greatest fighters we ever had. To me he was an absolute sublime boxer.”
With Michael Buffer belting out his famous line, “Let’s get ready to Rumble!” and Jimmy Lennon not far behind with “It’s Showtime,” can we expect a similar catchphrase from Pollock soon? He is a bit skeptical about going full Hollywood in the ring. “I’ve never really thought about it. Michael Buffer started it and then all the others jumped on the bandwagon. I don’t know, I just always thought it was a bit contrived.” He does not close the door on it completely though. “But on the other hand, what Rodney (Berman) told me makes sense. You do then get to own something. You’re not just a guy making some announcement. If you look at how much money Michael Buffer has earned on ‘Lets get ready to Rumble’ maybe it makes sense,” he laughs.
What do you think, folks? Should Duncan Pollock kick off the main event with a unique, South African flavored catchphrase? Or is “old school” still the way to go?

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