An autobiography of UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre would seem an obvious idea. It’s been done by less popular fighters to varying degrees of success. Why not the greatest welterweight in the sport’s history? He’s got plenty of fans looking for his story in a book format, right?
Well, St-Pierre released his book, “The Way of the Fight,” (Harper, 2013) this year — but it may not be quite what those fans wanted.
“Way of the Fight” isn’t really an autobiography as much as it’s a self-help manual. It’s similar to the approach taken by boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya for his book, American Son, but taken much further. De La Hoya offered a journey through his life and career, giving tips along the way. St-Pierre offers only snippets of his life, with the help of several guests, and a clear lesson for each.
The book is structured into five parts: Mother, with St-Pierre’s mother; Mentor, with longtime MMA trainer Kristof Midoux; Master, with jiu-jitsu coach John Danaher; Maven, with current coach Firas Zahabi; and Conscience, with manager Rodolphe Beaulieu.
It may not be what fans expect, but it’s actually a very enjoyable read.
We begin with St-Pierre bullied as a kid, and struggling with kidney problems. Midoux recalls St-Pierre struggling through training and working as a garbage collector to make ends meet. John Danaher mentions that St-Pierre is actually an unremarkable natural athlete. But he rises to the top.
St-Pierre quotes a familiar Japanese proverb early in the book: “Fall seven times, get up eight.” 七転び八起き. Generally it’s interpreted as encouraging, “when life knocks you down, keep on trying.”
You’ll hear wise-cracking folk on the web (eh, not sure if that’s a redundancy at this point) describe that as nonsensical. You fall down, you get up, you fall down, you get up… hey wait, that should only be seven times down, and seven times up, right?
I’m no expert on the matter, but I always saw the added “getting up” as a matter of emphasis; that continuous and slow improvement which is needed. The battle never ends, and you have to accept that. You’ve never really “gotten up” a last time. At least, that’s not the mindset.
Similarly, St-Pierre describes his life as a triumph of will. Dedication is the one thing he’s good at. He has suffered defeat — being bullied in childhood, getting beat up in training — and that’s why he wins now. He makes sacrifices where others won’t. He keeps his mind moving, looking for new inspirations and innovation in training. He’s always prepared and ready to adapt.
Is all this for real? I don’t know, but it’s sure compelling. On the down side, it’s only 225 pages, with a massive font besides.
Early in the book St-Pierre describes his goal is to write the greatest book ever written. I… wouldn’t go that far. But he has insight to offer, and hey, it got me excited about tomorrow. I’ve got to thank him for it, and I think after giving “Way of the Fight” a look, I think you will too.