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Friday, September 23, 2011

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: A FIGHTER'S HEART!

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: A FIGHTER'S HEART!

SAM SHERIDAN

Not so much forgotten as perhaps overlooked, this 2007 firsthand account of author Sheridan’s journey into his own heart of darkness is as impressive as it is readable. Like Sam Spade on the trail of The Maltese Falcon, Sheridan is chasing an elusive maguffin . . . in this case, the ability to knowto know the true extent of his physical and mental boundaries as he takes on the toughest fighters in the world, mano-a-mano.

If you consider that last sentence way to macho for its own good, this is probably not for you. Yet, Sheridan’s experiences are tempered by his examination of the motivations beneath them, which makes the story worth grappling with.

A FIGHTER'S HEART: ONE MAN'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE WORLD OF FIGHTING

In 1999, after a series of wildly adventurous jobs around the world, Sam Sheridan found himself in Australia, loaded with cash and intent on not working until he’d spent it all. It occurred to him that, without distractions, he could finally indulge a long-dormant obsession: fighting.

Within a year, he was in Bangkok training with the greatest fighter in muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) history and stepping through the ropes for a professional bout. That one fight wasn’t enough. Sheridan set out to test himself on an epic journey into how and why we fight, facing Olympic boxers, Brazilian jiu-jitsu stars, and Ultimate Fighting champions.

Along the way, Sheridan delivers an insightful look at violence as a career and a spectator sport, a behind-the-pageantry glimpse of athletes at the top of their terrifying game.

An extraordinary combination of gonzo journalism and participatory sports writing, A Fighter’s Heart is a dizzying first-hand account of what it’s like to reach the peak of finely disciplined personal aggression, to hit—and be hit.

Finishing A Fighter’s Heart, I found myself understanding what drove Sheridan to fight. As I warily eye the approaching end of my sixth decade, I still rigorously push back against it. While I’m never going to go mano-a-mano against a muay Thai master, I still run and workout twice a day – every day – as I have done for years. I still want to knowto know how fast I can still go; to know how long I can continue. The pleasure and the energy to continue comes from obtaining that knowledge – there is personal meaning simply in the knowing.

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