A riveting memoir by acclaimed combat sports and entertainment journalist Fiaz Rafiq, as he shares captivating stories of fighting legends and entertainment stars alongside the story of his own personal hardships, struggles against prejudice, and ultimate triumph.
Fighting against the Odds is the culmination of Fiaz Rafiq’s decades of work behind the scenes as a mixed martial arts and combat sports journalist, gaining the trust and confidence of the best fighters in UFC and boxing. Rafiq shares candid accounts, hidden histories, and thrilling experiences from his time with some of the most famous and prominent personalities in fighting sports. Included are never-before-told stories of UFC’s most decorated and revered champions in Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, Daniel Cormier, Brock Lesnar, Georges St-Pierre, and Conor McGregor and boxing and martial arts icons such as Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, and Bruce Lee.
Reaching the pinnacle of his career was anything but a smooth ride for Rafiq. The writer faced adversities, obstacles, and even harassment at American airports. Fighting against the Odds is a fascinating odyssey, one man’s inspiring coming-of-age story populated by some of the most colorful characters in the world of sports and entertainment. It is a powerful story of hard work, tenacity, and success against overwhelming odds.
Fiaz Rafiq is a sports and entertainment journalist and author. After two decades of working in publishing, including 15 years writing for bestselling magazine Martial Arts Illustrated (MAI) and contributing to magazines such as Impact: The Global Action Movie Magazine, MMA Uncaged, and Men’s Fitness, he became a contributing writer for multiple national newspapers. An acclaimed biographer of some of the towering figure in sports and Hollywood, his books include Muhammad Ali: The Life of a Legend, Bruce Lee: The Life of a Legend, and Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Life of a Legend. Rafiq is the co-author of My Brother, Muhammad Ali: The Definitive Biography with Ali’s brother Rahaman Ali—a Sunday Times Book of the Year published in seven languages.
Foreword writer Royce Gracie is a Brazilian mixed martial artist, a UFC Hall of Famer, and a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu practitioner.
One: Crazy Obsessions
Two: It’s A Man’s World
Three: Feeling Despondent
Four: The American Dream
Five: Enter the Gracies
Six: Returning to Los Angeles
Seven: Enter the Journalist
Eight: UFC Assignment
Nine: Realer than the UFC
Ten: The Giants
Eleven: Hollywood, Here We Come!
Twelve: Home Sweet Home
Thirteen: Sport of MMA Hits Mainstream
Fourteen: Ringside and Brock ‘The Beast’ Lesnar
Fifteen: UFC 105 Encounters
Sixteen: Boxing V UFC: Tyson-Gracie Challenge
Seventeen: UFC, Royals and Rich Arabs
Eighteen: Mike, Managers and Me
Nineteen: Muhammad Ali Encounters
Twenty: Martial Arts to Movie Magic
Twenty-One: I’ll Be Back
Twenty-Two: From Hospitality to MMA Chaos
Twenty-Three: Adventures In New York
Twenty-Four: Las Vegas
Twenty-Five Canada: MMA Mad
Twenty-Six: The Massive MMA Fiasco
Twenty-Seven: I’m No Terrorist
Twenty-Eight: Racism to Road Rage
Twenty-Nine: Mr Rocky
Thirty: Bruce Lee: Enter the Ring
Thirty-One: Enter the Octagon
Thirty-Two: Old School Meets New
Thirty-Three: Challenging Conor McGregor
Thirty-Four: Tough Man Tales
Thirty-Six: Meeting with an Underworld Figure
Thirty-Seven: Perils of Sports Fame
Thirty-Eight: Michael, Matt and Martial Arts
Thirty-Nine: A New Direction: New World
Forty: Flying High
Forty-One: A Tumultuous Year
About the Author
Fiaz Rafiq and I bonded over Bruce Lee. His interview-heavy books on Lee, Muhammad Ali & Arnold Schwarzenegger and pioneering coverage of full combat 'cage' sports was impressive. However, I didn’t understand him before Fighting against the Odds, his moving memoir which doubles as a self-help book. He’s the Islamic Horatio Alger. With a H.S. education, while adhering to his religion, he’s become a well-regarded entertainment and sportswriter, among the first to identify MMA-style combat sports as a phenomenon. As a shy, introverted kid, he fixated on Bruce Lee, hiding it from his strict parents,. Like Lee, he was a small-boned kid, and saw martial arts as an avenue. His passion became his life’s work as a writer. No one else covers MMA with such insight. Now, he spins out his unlikely life story with entertaining energy, verve, sincerity and passion.
An inspiring story of a kid who discovered his path in life — and success — through his passion for Bruce Lee and the martial arts. Highly recommended.
He (Fiaz) studies his subjects and does his homework so much that he can’t go wrong. Fiaz studies the person - like he studied about me, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and all those guys. And he knows more about the person than the person knows about himself.
The story of an obsessive individual who drew inspiration from his boyhood idol Bruce Lee to follow his dream and shape his life. It reflects how his passion forged friendships and taught him to roll with the blows that journalism can throw at you.
Fiaz knows exactly how to get to the heart of every story seamlessly - and telling his own is no different. A must read for fans of combat sports, MMA and Hollywood.
This is a gripping memoir which doubles up as an insightful deep dive into the world of entertainment and sports by a journalist who identified the phenomenon of MMA fighting as well as one man’s journey to discover who he really is.
My old friend Fiaz Rafiq has released a fascinating book about his experiences as a journalist in the world of MMA (combat sports) and beyond. This lovely soul is very impressive, winner of the Sunday Times Book of the Year for a previous title My Brother, Muhammad Ali;you can be sure that this book will be equally insightful.
Like many writers, Rafiq’s career took many twists and turns, from sports into action movie reporting, and books. He’s refreshingly candid about the lows as well as the highs of a jet-setting career covering the UFC and more, including the interviews that went awry, and the deals not made. Along the way, his journey also chronicles the rise of MMA itself from a fringe sport to the mainstream. It’s a fascinating read that offers insights into the world of martial arts and a productive career in journalism.
Foreword by UFC legend Royce Gracie