Whatever you might think of him, or of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts in general, you cannot help but believe that Chris Leben is a fighter. Having watched Chris Leben fighting on The Ultimate Fighter, and throughout his career as in the UFC, I was very interested to see what kind of journey this man had been on in his life. Let me say this – I had no idea.
I haven’t read a lot of fighter biographies, but Chris’s story of a man from humble beginnings who rose to compete in some of the most memorable matches in the sport, had something about it that drew me to him. Here was the every man, the guy who didn’t have some of the natural gifts that other competitors did, but who showed up, and fought like hell, whether he was winning or losing.
What you did not see – at least until the tail end of his career – was what was going on behind the scenes. His fighting nickname – the crippler – is accurate in many ways. So much of this book is given over to the tragedies in Chris’s life, and the crippling battles with depression, drugs and alcohol abuse that plagued him throughout his life.
Chris pulls no punches, and is brutally honest as he pours out his life story. The book is co-written, as by his own admission, reading and writing are not his greatest fortes.
While this book may not appeal to non-fans of the sport, it is hard not to appreciate the story of a man from very humble beginnings, who could have been brought down by his many brushes with the law, and with death itself. I always respected Chris’ courage as a fighter, but this book revealed so much more of the man behind the bright red hair, and gave me a new respect for him as a man who has overcome much.