PAIN DON'T HURT by Mark Miller


Fighting Inside and Outside the Ring
Email this review


Rough-and-tumble, survival-of-the-fittest memoir from world-class kickboxer Miller.

Miller takes a thoughtful but unsentimental look at his life as a professional fighter trying desperately to overcome a dangerous heart condition, diabetes and a failing marriage. Born in Pittsburgh, Miller’s family life was governed by fear of and loathing for his hyperviolent father, who had been a former NBA player in the league’s fledgling years. His mother played an ambivalent role in his life, and his brother, Colin, was a ne’er-do-well who got involved with drugs and crime and ended up dead of a heroin overdose years later. As an athlete, Miller first tried his luck at baseball in college, but arm injuries and a sense of general disillusionment eventually steered him away from the baseball diamond. To his father's disapproval, he soon explored the more obscure world of kickboxing and martial arts, where he quickly found his calling. However, after compiling an impressive win-loss record, Miller received the diagnosis of an enlarged ventricle in his heart. He underwent major surgery, thus putting his promising fight career on indefinite hold. The author is terse and brutally direct in his descriptions of the seemingly impossible task of recovering from his open-heart surgery and re-entering the ring. His no-holds-barred descriptions of his crumbling marriage and his bouts with alcoholism and financial difficulties, not to mention the deaths of his parents and his brother (all in the same year), don’t always make for comfortable reading. But after all the suffering and hardship, his tale is ultimately inspiring and upbeat. Despite nature’s best efforts to discourage him, Miller eventually made a near-miracle recovery; by 2010, he found himself in Moscow at a major professional tournament, successfully competing in the ring again.

Miller’s tough-but-sensitive narrative voice is a force to be reckoned with.

Pub Date: July 15th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-222234-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Anthony Bourdain/Ecco
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2014


NonfictionFACING TYSON by Ted A. Kluck
by Ted A. Kluck
NonfictionCUT TIME by Carlo Rotella
by Carlo Rotella
ChildrenMUHAMMAD ALI by Jonah Winter
by Jonah Winter