Dana White, the president of the UFC and most polarizing man in MMA. If you are on his good side, you can be set for life. Hit a nerve with him and consider yourself permanently banned. I look forward to reading his autobiography when the day comes for that book, but while we wait we have something possibly better.
DFW’s mother, June White, has written her own biography about her son titled Dana White, King of MMA, and for lack of a better term, leaves it all in the cage. This tell-all book pulls no punches, but is this thing legit or hard to swallow? Even if it’s believable, is it worth your time and money? Let The Fight Nerd help you decide that with this book review!
The book starts off with three eclectic quotes, one from an uncredited writer at Yahoo! Sports, one from the movie “Superman”, and one from Teddy Roosevelt. Why is this odd? Well, firstly the quote from the movie is “It’s not who you are, but what you do that defines you”, and that is actually from “Batman Begins”. Off to a good start already. The quote from Yahoo is actually a quote from Dana himself, but it’s given no context, and lastly the Teddy Roosevelt one, which is “Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life on an individual.” The book does not need three quotes to begin with, when only the Roosevelt one fits anyway. Furthermore, misquoting Batman is a no-no in this nerd’s book. Believe it or not, those misquotes get worse as this book goes on.
Hit the jump as we delve deeper into the story of Dana White as told by his mom!
June White makes it very clear early on that her son is both a President and a King, but “dictator could be another of those titles”. Her plan for this book is to explain why, and show who her son was and is now. “I like Dana’s transformation to that of Precious in “Lord of the Rings,” she wrote. “Just as the ring of power changed that fictional character, Dana’s power and wealth have changed him into someone I do not recognize.” I think she meant Gollum, since the only fictional character named precious that I can think of a is a morbidly obese Black girl.
Nerdy nitpicking aside, June paints a portrait of a child who was once caring and sweet who was suddenly transformed into a wealthy man of power with a cold heart. When June was pregnant with Dana, she was misdiagnosed with a heart disease that would supposedly kill her in a year, but things worked out fine or else there would be no book. As a baby, June compared Dana to “Rosemary’s Baby”, with the blackest eyes she had ever seen that made her think he was born evil, but his eyes eventually turned to a normal shade of less Satanic tones.
June gives us a detailed account of Dana’s youth and important family members that helped to shape his life. There are many stories about Dana’s drunken and abusive father and the hard life they had as a family. Want some dirt on a young DFW? He memorized Dr. Seuss books at age three, was chased by an angry rooster as a teenager, and his grandfather thought he was gay. There are many more telling stories about his childhood, namely how he always enjoyed being the center of attention. Intermingled with the tales of Dana is the story of June, who set out to escape from Dana Sr., leaving Florida to take refuge with her mom in Connecticut, and then finally ending up in Massachusetts and Las Vegas.
One of the things that shocked June the most was how her son had become an atheist. The author related stories about how much a young Dana loved church and how their Priest would say how inquisitive he was about God and thought he was destined for Priesthood. Instead, Dana has forsaken his religious upbringing for reasons that June believes is because Dana thinks he is a God. This seems to be the item that bothers June the most, since it comes up very frequently throughout the entire book, and is one of the first things she tells us when she discusses her son.
There are many “myths” about Dana that the author debunks, including the hard life of Dana growing up on the mean streets of Southie and Vegas all alone. According to his mom, she was there for every minute of his life and has the stories to back it up. She also tells us that Dana never had a college education, despite him saying that he does.
As Dana began to grow into adulthood, he became a person with no sense of humor and a very controlling personality. He was a lazy kid who could not apply himself in school and never took to working much until he got involved with boxing and Peter Welch. In a twist of fate, a fallout between the two over money led to Dana retreating to Vegas on his own, where he started “Dana White Enterprises” and became the boxercise teacher we all know and love.
Without getting into too many details about the story, June takes many little stabs at Dana in her book, mostly at the end of a paragraph to punctuate her sour relationship. They come as after thoughts, like she was trying hard to be mean to him when deep down she is still his mother and loves him unconditionally. There are plenty of fun stories about Dana, as much as there harsher ones that villainize him.
In an ironic moment in the book, June typifies Dana as being like a union fighting for better pay and work conditions for his fighters back when he first took over the UFC. As soon as he became a part-owner in the company, his priorities changed and that while he has continued to try to make things better, he has also made the transition much harder under his reign. What seemed to hurt his mother the most was how Dana never mentions anyone in his family, be it herself, his sister, grandparents or anyone, and how he pushed them completely out of his life as his fame grew. June attended every UFC for the first three years and helped him monetarily in many ways before then, but the end came when Dana became verbally abusive to her in public on several occasions.
Technically speaking, this book is full of typo’s, some only a few sentences apart from each other. After the second nerdy nitpick I caught, I came to the realization that this was self-edited and that I would be in for a long ride if I complained about every grammatical mistake. For example, June’s brother George was a black belt in the art of Tae Ka Won Do, and she distinctly remembered a spectator at the early Zuffa UFC’s in Jersey named Tank About. Consider this a warning, dear readers, that your eyes will be assaulted with all manner of misspelling, so do your best to not let that ruin your experience if you choose to pick this up.
The book is a short read, clocking in at 136 pages, a few of those being full-page photos or relics from this past like his birth certificate and a hand-written letter he wrote as a youth. Even at that length, is it worth the read? While not being the most well-written piece of literature, you can tell it comes from the heart and the lack of editing reinforces that for me. It reminds me of when I read my grandmother’s autobiography; it was filled with bad spelling, awful grammar and a generally bland writing style, but what did I expect from a 70 year old immigrant who was not a professional writer?
The raw writing style comes off not as unprofessional, but more real. These are the words of a mother who has something to say and wants her voice to be heard. MMA fans only get to see one side of the Dana White story, now a whole new world has been opened up through the eyes of the woman that gave birth to him and has seen him evolve into the man we know today as the President of the UFC. June gives us the most candid look we could have without being there in person to show us what made the “King of MMA” and what drives him to act the way he does.
You can buy this book for $9 on Smashwords, but there is currently a 25% off deal on the site through the end of this month, so at that price any person who likes or hates Dana White should take a look at this.