Having read a number of books on professional wrestling over the past few years, I thought it was time to break my duck as far as mixed martial arts books are concerned, and I do so with Clyde Gentry’s book, No Holds Barred: Ultimate Fighting and the Mixed Martial Arts Revolution.
First published in 2002, Gentry takes an overall look at the way the mixed martial arts phenomenon has developed, but doesn’t start with the first Ultimate Fighting Championship show held in November 1993. He goes back even further, thousands of years in fact, to the sport of pan ration, held in the ancient Olympics. Skipping forward a few centuries, he also takes a look at how the late, great Bruce Lee envisioned a form of fighting skill, jeet kune do, and, of course, in infamous fight in Tokyo between World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali and Japanese wrestling legend Antonio Inoki.
Gentry then takes an in-depth look at the formation and early years of the UFC, how the promotions was originally conceived, and how it was perceived in the mainstream media, gaining almost immediate condemnation from both politicians and the press.
Gentry’s look at the world of mixed martial arts, at it’s fighters and it’s political machinations is a tremendous read. The interviews conducted with the likes of Tank Abbott, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, and various members of the Gracie family certainly add to the overall flavour of the book, and it’s obvious that without their input, this book just wouldn’t have been the same.
But the good thing about this book is that Gentry doesn’t confine himself to the American MMA scene. There is an extensive chapter on the worldwide MMA scene, so fans of the various Japanese promotions, including Pride and K-1, will be pleased.
In conclusion - if you’re a keen follower of the mixed martial arts world, and you’re interested in finding out about it’s history, then this is the book for you. It’s extremely well written and researched, and is a great read. It’s one of those books that you just can’t put down once you’ve started reading it, and trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
No Holds Barred: Ultimate Fighting and the Martial Arts Revolution by Clyde Gentry is published by Milo Books, and can be purchased from any good book store, or from the usual on-line outlets.