‘I pulled open the door to the phonebox and, as I’d hoped, the loony spun round. I didn’t say a word, I just unleashed a corker of a right hand – BANG! – which caught him flush on the jaw. It was as close to being a perfect punch as I’ve ever thrown. When I felt it land I thought to myself, ‘Game over! Now I’m going home to finish my brandy.’
Encapturing the essence of Born Fighter written by Dave Hazard, the sleeve quote gives a tantalising taste of what the book has to offer. A refreshingly frank glance back through what can only be described as an eventful existence, Born Fighter guides us through a montage of scenes from Dave Hazard’s life, scenes that have each individually moulded him, and made him just who he is today; a strong-willed, honest and genuine man with fists of steel and a heart of gold.
Dipping into the episodes in his life that affected him deeply, for good or bad, he tells us his story in colourful language, sharing intimate moments with each reader. We meet Dave as a child, toothless and grinning, surrounded by those he loves and those who love him. From there we follow him through his life, taking each step alongside him.
Born Fighter is a book fantastically written in Dave-speak, his words and his feelings, but what makes the book a truly incredible read are the shorter chapters written in at intervals. Written in italics, they read almost as the secret, internal musings of a man with so much to share. These chapters present us with his candid attitudes towards fighting, teaching and living. They carry a feeling of importance, accenting his personality and ethos within them. It is these diary-like chapters that give us the extra insight into Dave, into what makes him tick. Each chapter carries a sense of almost subconscious, or even unconscious, thought - making you feel as though you are listening without permission, eavesdropping, accessing his personal, internal thoughts. These chapters treat the reader as a personal confidante, drawing us into the story, making us feel as though Dave is in the room, speaking directly to, and only to you.
Opening with a chapter (in italics) entitled One Chance, Dave introduces us to the philosophy by which he lives, the idea of having only one chance, one chance to live, one chance to fight. He explains, ‘The stories that follow – the ones I’ve decided to share with you – are real and honest and true. In many ways my life will be very different from yours. In one way though, it’s exactly the same. When push comes to shove, we’ve both got only one chance!’ This idea, passed down to him from his teacher, Enoeda Sensei, is riddled through the book, present in every second of his life. It is this strength of character, and this unfaltering spirit that shines from Dave that endears him to us instantly.
For anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting and training with Dave, it becomes obvious that this book is infused with his personality, with his cheeky, heart-felt and sincere anecdotes. Dave’s character and sense of being is soaked into every page, within the print and between the lines.
Born Fighter offers tales of not only his life as a karate-ka, but also of his life as a fighter, battling for his pride, his family and his love. The book shares genuine laugh-out-loud moments, written with a sense of humour that is completely infectious. We read of his time in Japan, his adventures as a competitor, and the tale of him breaking his ribs, but not at the hands of an adversary. (Well, not a human one anyway!) From Dave’s infamous first meetings with Mick Dewey and Stan Schmidt, to his adventures of time spent with Enoeda Sensei the book is a veritable feast of exploits that are held close to his heart.
There are also moments that share with us the times that are not so funny. Dave speaks with an openness that is both rare and touching, about times when he is not quite in control, but rather than evoking sympathy from the readers, these moments only move to make you appreciate and admire the character of a man still growing and developing into who he is, still on his own journey, and I am thankful that he has been so willing to share this chapter of his journey with me as a reader, allowing me to laugh with him, walk with him, and indeed to fight with him.