“Gatekeeper: The Fighting Life of Gary ‘Big Daddy’ Goodridge” Book Review

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As the new guard of MMA begins to take over, the old guard is finally beginning to reveal their stories to fans around the world. In this case, one veteran from the bareknuckle days of cage fighting, Gary Goodridge, is telling his tale to the world, with his new autobiography entitled, “Gatekeeper: The Fighting Life of Gary ‘Big Daddy’ Goodridge.”

Written with the help of Mark Dorsey, this book chronicles Gary’s youth, first steps into the combat sports world, his maturation as a fighter and a person, and plenty of behind-the-scenes info that outsiders like us have not been privy to before. Is this book worth the time to hear more about Goodridge, or is his story best left untold? Hit the jump to find out as we take a look at “Gatekeeper”!

Gary explains his rationale for naming the book after a moniker that was given to him by fans and journalists alike, being the gatekeeper of “Pride FC.” In order to be a star in Japan, you have to make it past “Big Daddy” first, and not everyone has been able to do that. Gary’s record is a who’s who of fighters, many of whom were just beginning to grasp the brass ring on their way to the top by going through Goodridge first. As he explains in the book, Gary was never worried about wins, moreso just competing and putting on a good show, and that is what has made him so endearing to MMA fans for so many years.

It was Goodridge’s spirit of competition that pushed him in life, including through his days as a pro arm-wrestler. Gary opens the window for readers to learn more about what he did before he was an MMA fighter, and his arm-wrestling stories are just as fun as his fight stories (did you know Gary was in Sylvester Stallone’s film, “Over the Top?” You can learn why when you read that chapter). Readers also get to finally have an answer to why his UFC debut listed him as a Kuk Sool Won fighter, as well as how his infamous destruction of Paul Herrera was not a heat of the moment fluke, but a planned attack!

Goodridge does not shy away from letting readers know his opinion on things, including his disdain for Ken Shamrock and Ricco Rodriguez. On matters of the heart, Goodridge is extremely open in discussing the problems with his marriage and love life, as well as the many sexploits and romps he has had in the past with ladies. What will interest MMA fans the most is the backstage tales from his time in Japan, namely on the topic of steroids and fixed fights. Gary addresses the questions that fans have been asking for years, and while some fans might not be 100% sold on his answers, the rest of us have some closure on a controversial topic.

The most sad moment of the book is definitely towards the end, as Goodridge reminisces about meeting his hero, Muhammad Ali, and segues into his own battle with brain damage. A career that went the way of Goodridge’s was filled with crushing blows to the head from some of the best in the world, and this book is a true eye-opener to the longterm dangers of fighting professionally, as well as more of a reason for a fighters union or something similar to help fighters have insurance and a way to keep themselves going once their time in the cage is done. If anything, this book represents a call-to-arms and a need for change in this young sport, and if it accomplishes one thing besides telling a great story, I hope it is that message of helping the retired combatants to have a life after retirement.

At 190 pages, this is not a lengthy endeavor to get through, and I recommend it for all serious fans of old school MMA. It’s a quick and enjoyable read, and worth picking up to get some insight on the golden days of the sport, as well as life of a man who has given his body and soul for the glory of combat. Any hardcore fan will love reading this and hearing so much inside info about questions they have had for years.

You can pick up a copy of “Gatekeeper: The Fighting Life of Gary “Big Daddy” Goodridge” from Amazon.com for around $14, and it is definitely worth it. Buy a copy of “Big Daddy” will break my legs off and use them as toothpicks!

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