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A compelling book concerning Dan Clark's life up to present day,
This review is from: Gladiator: A True Story of 'Roids, Rage, and Redemption (Hardcover)A lot of people out there know Dan Clark as 'Nitro', one of the most popular American Gladiators from the late-80s to mid-90s series of the same name. Nitro was the type of guy who wouldn't take crap from anyone whatsoever and was all business all the time.
This book isn't centered around Nitro or a detailed account of a seven or eight year journey on one of America's most popular syndicated series... nor is it a scandal sheet dedicated to throwing those he knew under a bus. This is Dan Clark's story, and it stretches past anything one could have ever expected it to be.
Dan's story begins with one of his proudest moments, during an "American Gladiators" cross-country tour that has led him to Madison Square Garden. There are points that he is scared, intimidated, but it doesn't show. The crowd chants his name, he is their hero... and he will not disappoint. He is all business now and will remain to be until the show ends this night. In reality, he doesn't feel that way about himself. He's a flurry of emotions in denial of himself, though he doesn't ever deny what brought him this (in regards to the use/abuse of steroids). It is much deeper. It is something that will repeat throughout his life and actually started as a child.
He speaks of his childhood very candidly. His earliest memories concerns his father announcing that he and his older brother Randy are going to live with him in Minnesota, and his sister will stay with his mother in California. It upset him a great deal and was subsequently told that "Big Boys don't cry" by a stranger as they were boarding the flight to Minnesota. In other words, crying is weak or is a sign of weakness.
He and his brother are promptly abandoned in Minnesota, living with his uncle and aunt because his father had to go back to Vietnam. There is a period of stability with his aunt and uncle who shower the brothers with love, but it doesn't last. His father's demands that the boys move to Vietnam and live with him will ultimately become the focal point that changes Dan forever... when his older brother Randy is electrocuted right in front of his eyes.
Randy was his hero... moreso than any other figure in his life could ever be, including his own father.
He promptly walls up his emotions, eventually returning to the United States and takes up sports. Though he is overweight some, it doesn't stop him from making teams. Playing at this moment is for the most part an impossibility until his step-father stands up for him... giving Dan the courage to not only believe in himself, but to excercise and make weight.
Sports were an outlet for the rage pent up in his body. In a sense, it would be sports, football specifically, that would lead him to seek out steroids at the age of 18. It was a Faustian bargain of sorts... the promise of a drug that could make you bigger, stronger and faster that you ever imagined. He wanted to be a pro. And there were several prices to pay along the way.
Dan doesn't shy away from anything discussed in this book. This is as powerful an autobiography as I've ever read. He admits his own failings and fallings as he deals with not only the effects various steroids take on his body, but the emotional toll his brother's death continued to take on his life. In some ways, the two (steroids and grief) fed one another. I suppose that is how it can be with most addictions. The substance in question and grief make for a cocktail that is more toxic than each seperately.
I can't recommend this book enough... it's that good. Dan Clark shows you what he went through and what he continues to go through on the road to recovery. Dan's autobiography proves that it is the person inside all of us that is the true hero... not any persona seen on television or in films.