By: Brian J. D’Souza
Georges St-Pierre’s new book The Way of the Fight is a smashing success as a representation of all of St-Pierre’s ideals, both as a fighter and as a human being. Meshing the genres of biography, philosophy, and self-help, the resulting story yields an enjoyable read that is greater than the sum of its parts. Even more remarkable — the book is devoid of any trace of a bitter or vindictive tone that could taint what is essentially a book about one man overcoming adversity at every turn.
Still, this book is not a comprehensive biography of St-Pierre. As Jacob McArthur Mooney of The National Post notes, “The Way of the Fight is an account of the GSP brand…and the book’s occasional head-feints to the ‘real Georges’ are never more than teases.”
There are critical reasons why any UFC fighter should tread carefully when publishing a book. Look no further than the debacle that ensued between BJ Penn and UFC president Dana White when Penn released his own autobiography Why I Fight in 2010. Or Anderson Silva’s autobiography being pulled off the shelves in Brazil after his former manager Chute Boxe founder Rudimar Fedrigo engaged him in legal action.
But what was so controversial that it was left out of The Way of the Fight? Here’s a primer with four aspects of St-Pierre’s life and career that weren’t touched upon.
The Way of the Fight is divided into five sections, each focusing on a critical figure in GSP’s development. The last section is called “Conscience” and is centered on Rodolphe Beaulieu, St-Pierre’s current manager, with his other co-manager Philippe Lepage being given a brief mention.
Two names that never come up in this book are Stephane Patry, St-Pierre’s first manager and the promoter of the (now defunct) Quebec-based promotion TKO, and Shari Spencer, St-Pierre’s second manager. Why omit the two most critical people to St-Pierre’s business relationships who played a role in bringing him to superstardom?
Said GSP to YA Magazine of the time period when Patry was managing him, “In my entourage and my management, I got screwed. A lot of people were stealing money from me.”
When Patry was unceremoniously dumped as St-Pierre’s manager in 2007 after St-Pierre’s shocking upset-loss to Matt Serra, Patry still held a valid management contract over St-Pierre that extended for multiple years. Patry sued and St-Pierre eventually settled the matter outside of court. The legal settlement with Patry most likely involved a clause making St-Pierre unable to comment on their business arrangements.
Shari Spencer, who took over from Patry, was supposed to be an improvement. While St-Pierre acquired several brand-name sponsors, he was also paying out a hefty commission to certain agencies. Spencer also had free use of an expense account. Like with Patry, any legal settlement would have precluded St-Pierre from really explaining why he rid himself of Spencer in January 2011.
Not being able to discuss the ways in which Patry and Spencer hurt St-Pierre — personally or financially — made erasing their contributions from his narrative an easy choice.
Virtually all credit for the GSP we see today is ascribed to French fighter Kristof Midoux for his early mentoring of the young St-Pierre, Tristar coach Firas Zahabi for becoming GSP’s coach after the devastating Matt Serra loss in April 2007, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace John Danaher whom GSP learned from on his frequent trips to New York City. Without any doubt, Midoux, Zahabi, and Danaher were the cornerstones that helped GSP build the skills that make him legendary today, but The Way of the Fight entirely omits several people who were also critical in St-Pierre’s development as a mixed martial artist.
Kickboxing coach Victor Vargotsky helped strengthen St-Pierre mentally after GSP’s first loss via first-round armbar to Matt Hughes in 2004. Yet there isn’t even a mention of his name in GSP’s book.
“If it wasn’t for the way Victor broke Georges down after the Matt Hughes fight, and built him back the way that he did, he would never have become Georges St-Pierre the way people know him today,” said Alexandre Choko, former owner of the Tristar Gym in Montreal.
Wagnney Fabiano was St-Pierre’s first BJJ coach; Fabio Holanda came next, with both Fabiano and Holanda teaching St-Pierre in his native city of Montreal. Neither rated a mention in The Way of the Fight, with John Danaher getting exclusive credit for GSP’s BJJ skills. It’s hard to believe that St-Pierre spent more time on the mat anywhere besides Montreal, especially during the early days of his career when he struggled to pay the bills.
While St-Pierre fell out with Vargotsky and Holanda, their omission from the narrative is partially to do with crafting a concise book about St-Pierre and partially due to the revisionist history St-Pierre wants to craft about himself.
Anderson Silva, who fell out with his first Muay Thai trainer Fabio Noguchi, and Rudimar Fedrigo’s Chute Boxe academy, still mentioned both men and their gyms in his autobiography. Whether Noguchi and Chute Boxe were more positive or negative for Silva’s career is a matter for spirited debate, but that those coaches and trainers influenced Anderson Silva cannot ever be denied.
On the next page: GSP’s sex life and the UFC’s business practices — a gentleman never tells.