Iceman: My Fighting Life by Chuck Liddell and Chad Millman was able to succinctly, and graphically, let outsiders into the world of one of the most recognized names in MMA history.
Many would agree that Liddell’s life and background is somewhat of a mystery. In this convincing biography, a range of questions are answered, from the mohawk and painted toenails to the simple question of why he became a fighter in the first place.
Iceman comes out swinging with accounts of Lidell’s childhood, providing little-known facts about the fighter. When Liddell was born, he had a physical handicap (explaining the hitch in his step). He was raised in Santa Barbara, Calif., by his single mother. His grandparents had a tremendous influence on him, with his grandfather playing a huge role in him growing both as a person and as a fighter. The entire first section of the book informs the reader that Liddell did not come across fighting by happenstance, but rather it was in his blood.
Liddell and Millman move on to Liddell’s first meetings with John Hackleman, as well as the “The Pit” in its infancy. While the reader is no doubt intrigued by the grinding workouts, it is also important to mention that these were the roots of Hackleman’s novel form of martial art, Hawaiian Kempo. One can’t help but make the connection that these initial meetings shaped Liddell’s style as a fighter.
With comprehensive storytelling, Liddell and Millman are able to give a history of the UFC and its beginning, which is appealing to diehard fans and novices alike. We hear of the elder Gracies, their status as Jiu Jitsu masters and fighting champions, and what ultimately led to Rorion Gracie and Art Davie in their joint venture. Putting topics like these in the biography and making sure the reader has a background on certain subject matter keeps the reader entertained.
Liddell goes into another aspect of the fight game that I have yet to read in the most recent biographies: women. Chuck did not spend much time on the subject, but the stories are memorable and give yet another element of a fighter’s life that’s worth reading about.
The book is cut off after Liddell’s September 2007 fight with Keith Jardine, so there is a wide range of information chronicled well and no real dull areas. One thing I expected to read going into the book was more detail of the infamous Lee Murray vs. Tito Ortiz back alley brawl (in Matt Hughes’ biography, Liddell was in the vicinity and knocking out people left and right). Liddell talks early on about a drill in his karate training where he stands against a wall while attackers come at him from all angles. I assumed it would be tied in later on, but it never was.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. It’s an exciting read, and there are many more details that are revealed. It’s a fast read, and you will enjoy both the way it is written and the themes involved.
Paul Larkin is a longtime book reviewer who works in the finance industry in Baltimore, Md. With a background in boxing, Paul is also a longtime MMA enthusiast. MMAjunkie.com’s new book reviewer can be reached at [email protected]. Check out his past contributions in MMAjunkie.com’s “Book Reviews” section.