Review: Why I Fight: The Belt is Just an Accessory
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
From the cover:
For the last decade, BJ Penn has been one of the most successful and feared fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), rising through the ranks to become, pound for pound, one of the best in the world. Along the way, people have been quick to judge, praise, criticize, and hype him. They have torn him down only to build him back up. They have spilled ink and blood trying to understand what makes him the provocative and controversial fighter that he is.
Why I Fight is the answer that everyone—critics, fans, commentators, pundits, and perhaps even Dana White, current president of the UFC—has been waiting for. In his own words, Penn tells the story of his life spent fighting, explaining what led a scrappy teenager from the rough streets of Hilo, Hawaii, onto the biggest stage in all of mixed martial arts (MMA). From his earliest days, becoming one of the preeminent practitioners of Brazilian jujitsu in the world, to his first MMA fights and his battles with UFC champions like Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre, Penn shows that in life, just like in the Octagon, he is never one to back down from a fight.
A blunt and brutal look at his hardest-fought victories and his most frustrating defeats, Why I Fight is the story of how BJ Penn became one of only two fighters in UFC history to hold belts in two different weight classes. It is the story of a kid from Hawaii who loved to fight. It is the story of a true prodigy.
I have an older brother. Basically that means I listened to the music he listened to and watched what he watched while growing up. It’s also the reason why I’m a sports junkie and a fan of MMA and BJ Penn. When I first started watching The Ultimate Fighter I thought it was just a bunch of guys beating each other up. Don’t get me wrong, it is about a bunch of guys beating each other up, but it’s also about a bunch of guys following their passion and doing what they love while figuring out what they want to do with their life. At the end of the day, I think that’s what we’re all trying to do.
Sometimes when you read a memoir or a biography, you think the author is holding back or he or she is stretching the truth to get a point across. Why I Fight, however, was a brutally honest and raw account of BJ Penn’s life. He didn’t hold anything back and he wasn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind even if it’s not politically correct. He tackles every subject a fighter goes through in this book from disputes with coaches to his position against steroids and cheating, as well as trying to figure out the right balance in training and diet and everything in between.
He revealed a lot about MMA and UFC and the book was definitely an eye opener. The descriptions of his fights were so detailed and vivid that there were times I thought I saw the fight occurring right before my eyes. On the other hand, he also discussed the business aspect of the game and the difficult negotiations and lawsuits he had to go through, which is something that fans normally don’t think about.
I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who’s a fan of BJ Penn or MMA. It’s a very insightful look into MMA from the perspective of a fighter, which is completely different from how you view it as a fan. You don’t necessarily need to be a fan of MMA or even understand it to read the book because Penn does an excellent job of breaking down the terminology and explaining the sport to the readers.
The book is titled “Why I Fight”, so I thought I’ll end my review with what I thought the best answer to that question would be as he discusses his passion for the sport.
“All the faith they had in me, the tools they provided, the countless hours of training I put in, the moving, the traveling, the flying, the sleepless nights and endless days wondering what my life would be like, and any other questions I ever had, all of it was answered inside that cage.”