(Above: The book cover, via Smashwords.com. Below: Proof that Dana White was born to a human mother and father. Click both to enlarge.)
In a Frank Sorrentino-esque attempt to remind her big-time son where he came from, Dana White‘s mother June White has self-published a book called Dana White: King of MMA, which details how the Baldfather’s personality changed for the worse as he became wealthy and powerful through the success of the UFC. You can buy the 92-page volume for $8.99 at Smashwords.com — or you can just do what we did and read the 13-page sample, in which the author debunks the DW “mythology,” describes how Dana cursed her out as if she were any other uncooperative fighter or reporter, and yes, even compares him to Rosemary’s Baby. (That part’s my favorite. Kudos, June) Here are the best bits…
There are many articles written about Dana, where he came from, and the hard life he had growing up. I have heard him referred to as a Southie tuff, but that is not who Dana is and does not accurately reflect the life he has led. It is hard for me to hear the many myths about Dana, and the way he is portrayed to the public. It is difficult for me to see how, as the popularity of the UFC evolved, the person I once knew changed into someone who is egotistical, self-centered, arrogant, and cruel. I liken Dana’s transformation to that of Precious in Lord of the Rings. Just as the ring of power changed that fictional character, Dana’s power and wealth have changed him into someone I do not recognize.
Dana’s family and friends were always there to help and support him no matter what the circumstances. As Dana’s success grew and the circumstances of life changed for him, he did not do the same for them. Dana went from being a true friend, a good son, and a truly nice person to being a vindictive tyrant who lacks any feelings for how he treats others. It is hard to say if what changed him so utterly was the extreme amount of money he came into so quickly, the influence of those around him, or how suddenly he could make or break so many people. Power can create ugly beasts. In meetings that were not going Dana’s way, he has told me, he would stand up at the conference table, (creating a psychological advantage), holler, and swear at individuals he was dealing with. He would tell them, “I’ll bury you!” Dana has a very short fuse and it does not take a whole lot to set him off on a totally out-of-control tirade. These days he always gets what he wants, no matter what it takes to get it. His employees will echo that same powerful statement: he will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.
A good deal of Dana’s power obviously comes from the extraordinary amount of money he has acquired in the last few years. When you have that much money, everyone wants to be your friend, your pal, your buddy, a member of your entourage. True friends are the ones that were there before the houses, cars, planes, fancy trips, and extravagant parties. True friends are the ones who would share a peanut butter sandwich with you when your refrigerator was empty and so were your pockets.
As early as when the UFC had just begun to turn around and the company was making a profit, I could see changes in Dana that bothered me. I would always tell him, “Keep your feet on the ground. Remember who you are and where you came from. Don’t let your head get so big you can’t fit through a doorway.”
He always responded the same way: “You do not have to ever worry about that.”
These negative changes in Dana became more and more noticeable. I kept hoping Dana would recognize that he was becoming a different person, that there seemed to be a correlation between his increasing wealth and his increasing unkindness to those around him. I thought he would take a step back and look at what it was he was doing to friends and family. As his mom, if anyone could or should say something, I felt it would be me. Indeed, most people take advice from their moms as constructive, at least as well intended. In an e-mail, I told my son that I wanted my old Dana back. I felt like aliens had abducted my Dana and replaced him with this other person I really did not know. I assumed he would at least think about what I had said and about what it was, he was doing, but his response was the furthest thing from stepping back and thinking about what I had just told him.
Dana immediately e-mailed me back: “Who the fuck do you think you are, talking to me like that? No one talks to me that way.”
Of course, after the initial shock faded, I shot back, “I am your mother, that is who I am, and don’t you ever forget that. I am not one of your fighters or employees!” That was exactly my point in my initial email to him, that he was treating people as if they were less than deserving of common courtesy and respect.
His next response was not what I had expected either. It was a good thing for him I was on the east coast and he was in Las Vegas. I was so angered by his replies. My blood pressure had to be at stroke level. We did not speak for an extended period after that. This was the upshot of the changes in my son, and it seems to me partly due to a mythology that grew up around him and that he did nothing to correct. In fact, he seems to have helped spread these tales. It is time to set the record straight about who Dana White was and who he has become.
Article after article spreads a myth of the early life of Dana White, how as a child he endured without his mother or father around, how he had no male figures in his life. In this fictional version of his life, Dana was a child left on his own in the mean streets of South Boston and Las Vegas. This picture of his youth is certainly something that makes for good reading but it is a far cry from the truth. The truth is Dana lived a charmed life growing up in a family full of uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents who were always around, who were all very close and spent holidays and vacations together. Dana attended private school in Las Vegas, and from kindergarten until he graduated high school, I always stayed on top of what was going on with his academics. When he was faltering or having trouble in school, I immediately took steps to address the problems. While living in Las Vegas, his grandmother, a retired teacher, would go to his school and sit in on his class to see why he was having problems when his grades were poor.
After Dana was born, we spent a year living in a small, rural town in Connecticut. We spent another year in a small beach community in Florida, and a year and a half living in a bedroom community in Connecticut and then seven years living in a quaint little town in rural western Massachusetts. Even after moving to Las Vegas, Dana spent his summers in upstate Maine. Dana never had a job or worked while he lived at home, and he did very little in the way of chores at home. Even after moving out on his own, he frequently came to me for help and support. So much for the boy-raising-himself-in-the-streets myth.
Dana was born three weeks after my projected due date, weighed six pounds, nine ounces, and was nineteen inches long. He was thin with peeling skin from being overdue. He was not a pretty baby when he was born, but skinny and scraggly looking. Dana wasn’t one of those babies with the chubby thighs but instead with skinny, little chicken legs.
Rosemary’s Baby came out in 1968. The movie starred Mia Farrow as a young woman who, by the end of the movie, has Satan’s child. Dana was born in 1969, shortly after this movie came out. One afternoon, when the nurses brought Dana to me for his feeding, thoughts of this movie came back me. I remembered how Mia Farrow was so sick through her pregnancy in the movie, just like I was. This was the first time Dana had opened his eyes while he was with me. When I looked into his eyes, I was taken aback by how black his eyes were. I had never seen anyone with eyes so black, especially a baby. That realization is etched in my mind as if I had stared into those eyes for the first time only yesterday. My family ancestry is Irish, and so we all have blue or green eyes. I could not tell where Dana’s pupils ended and where the color of the iris should have started. The effect was chilling, and I had the feeling of looking into soulless eyes. The experience was truly upsetting and worried me as to who, or what, he would grow up to be.”
A few years ago, Dana had hired someone to write about him and this person called to ask me questions about Dana and what he was like growing up. Somewhere in the conversation, he asked me how I felt about Dana being an atheist. I had no idea at the time that Dana was claiming he did not believe there was a God. I responded, “Dana was raised Catholic. He was an altar boy. He went to Catholic school and was married in the Catholic Church and all his children were baptized in the church.” Somewhat confused by the news I asked, “When did Dana make this decision?”
Before the writer could answer, I thought about Dana’s behavior these days and told the writer, “Oh, wait. I can understand why he doesn’t believe in God anymore. It’s because these days he thinks he’s God.” The writer went back to Dana and told Dana that I had made those comments to him. I am told Dana was furious. I found his reaction quite amusing.
Recently, I was in the hospital and very sick, knocking-on-heaven’s-door sick. Dana came to see me, and one of the first things he asks me is whether I actually made that comment to the writer about him thinking he was God. I told him I did and thought it was witty for what the writer had asked. I don’t think Dana thought so. He has no sense of humor regarding himself anymore, (I am King, hear me roar).