Pain Don't Hurt: Fighting Inside and Outside the Ring
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Pain Don’t Hurt is the no-holds-barred memoir from the only professional fighter in history to return to the ring after open-heart surgery, kickboxer Mark “Fightshark” Miller—an inspiring story of family, determination, and redemption.
In 2007, Mark Miller was a rising star in professional kickboxing, until a routine physical uncovered a serious condition that required open-heart surgery. The crisis helped to temporarily reunite his fractured family and made Miller more determined than ever to return to the kickboxing ring. But within a year, his parents and brother were all dead, and Miller’s fragile optimism imploded, sending him into a tailspin of drugs and alcohol.
Pain Don’t Hurt is a story of incredible tenacity, dedication, and hard work—how one fierce competitor overcame repeated obstacles to realize his dreams. Miller recounts stories ranging from his childhood spent in the Steelers locker room to the surprising life lessons he learned from other fighters to his triumphant return to fighting in a Moscow kickboxing ring. He talks sincerely about family and fatherhood—of the hard lessons about masculinity and violence learned from his father. He also offers an inspiring, exciting, and frank account of the fights—both in and out of the ring—that have shaped him.
A deeply personal account of guts, blood, and glory, Pain Don’t Hurt pays tribute to the never-say-die spirit embodied in a man who refuses to back down, no matter the odds.
was screwing his face up into a series of grimaces and squints, simultaneously wincing against the light and trying to make me think he was truly something to fear. He was transmitting all kinds of hostility to try to look intimidating, and really he just looked like a plucked, underfed chicken being made to dance for company. Fighters, like dogs, can smell fear. This kid looked and smelled like he was terrified, and I almost felt bad. Almost. Then I remembered we were both there by choice. He
fighters laughed; a few patted me on the back, saying things like “Now, that is the truth!” Mo stood on the side of the pool, sporting some multicolored slingshot of a bathing suit. He was totally disinterested in our giggles; instead, he put on that “So what?” face of his and spoke so calmly you almost couldn’t hear him over the sound of the water slapping against the tile. “First of all, Mark, I’m not black, I am brown. If we were to go to the paint store, you would not find a color that
being a recently diagnosed diabetic. But once in a while my mother allows me to have them, at birthday parties and on Halloween, and sometimes when she feels some sort of apology is in order. But this isn’t a birthday party, and it isn’t Halloween. “Mark, you know all of those people that died today have gone to heaven, right? They are all in heaven, and there’s no pain in heaven, and they get to be with God.” I pause. Then I ask the one question I know I shouldn’t. “Why wasn’t God there
gore-coated clawed hand dressed in a tangle of veins shredding through my center, carrying with it every nerve that has ever coursed through me. I start to reach one hand up to wipe my eyes, only to have my arm stop an inch or so above the bed, but my muscles continue to contract and I let out a gasp as the resistance instigates a cacophony of screaming within the nerves in my chest. I am restrained. I have this image of wishing myself through the bed, backward, away from the pain, the
observation, that the doctor would call me the following day. Colin had been fluttering around all this time. He was mostly in Washington, DC, at least as far as I knew, but he had been calling a lot. I had been trying to make peace with him, but addicts don’t want peace, not while the drug is in charge. The most recent phone call had resulted in my hanging up on him after he actually said to me, “I can’t believe no one told me that she was in the hospital. You need to let me talk to her.” I had