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Ultimate fighter learns from fear

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Georges St. Pierre talks to reporters after winning his welterweight title in March.

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Georges St. Pierre talks to reporters after winning his welterweight title in March.

If Georges St. Pierre needs a job after his mixed martial arts career is over, he might want to consider becoming a motivational speaker.

You don't have to be a fan of ultimate fighting to like this inspirational memoir. You just have to be a human being who deals with disappointments and fear throughout your life.

As an athlete who has risen to the top of his craft -- he is the current welterweight champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship league -- Quebec-born St. Pierre has had more than his fair share of successes. But the 31-year-old doesn't dwell on the championships he has won and the belts that have adorned his waist.

Instead, the man known simply as GSP focuses on what most of us would perceive as the negatives in his life. He sees defeats as an opportunity to learn and get better and fear as the beginning of every success he has ever had.

"Fear made me. It's why I am in love with my own fear," he writes. "Don't misunderstand me: I don't like fear, but I do love it, and there's a major difference there. Because of what my fear makes me do. Because of how my fear has made me who I am... Some people learn to lose. Others lose and learn,"

The UFC is coming to Winnipeg for the first time on June 15 at the MTS Centre. St. Pierre, however, is not on the card.

The Way of the Fight is divided into five sections and in each one, a second voice helps tell GSP's story -- his mother, his mentor (UFC groundbreaker Kristof Midoux), his master (Brazilian jiu-jitsu teacher John Danaher), his maven (friend and head coach Firas Zahabi) and his "conscience" (friend and manager, Rodolphe Beaulieu).

St. Pierre uses martial arts as a metaphor for life. He delves into fighting techniques to this point in his career, but he is quick to note there is more to winning battles than fists and feet.

While he is the face of his sport today, St. Pierre didn't start out as a winner. He was constantly bullied as a young boy, in part because he couldn't stop licking his lips and developed a red rim of raw skin around his mouth.

"I must have looked like a diminutive clown, or something else, something ridiculous," he writes. "To the other kids around me, I was different, weird, an easy target."

Growing up, he was also fascinated by dinosaurs, the most powerful beasts on Earth for millions of years, but he remains inspired by cockroaches, which he calls "the ultimate adapter and the greatest survivor."

You can understand the affinity.

As an amateur boxer, Free Press reporter Geoff Kirbyson has had plenty of losses.

The Way of the Fight

By Georges St. Pierre

HarperCollins, 225 pages, $29

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 18, 2013 J8

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