Category Archives: Bio-logy

Bio-Logy: Mad As I Wanna Be

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Danny Morrison’s Mad As I Wanna Be was released in 1997, when Morrison had recently been dropped from the Black Caps, a situation which hangs heavy throughout. There’s no ghost-writer credited, but I presume one was involved, because it’s relatively readable and well-organised, unlike his too-often inane commentary. Ultimately the post-career bio stands or falls based on the intrinsic character of the subject. Unfortunately Morrison, while a solid, occasionally very good cricketer, is just not that interesting.

Which is not to say there aren’t some tremendously entertaining elements to this book. Firstly, it’s called Mad As I Wanna Be. Seriously. This from one of the most prosaic cricketers ever to represent New Zealand. Dennis Rodman’s autobiography is called Bad As I Wanna Be, curiously published three months after Morrison’s (did he steal the title? DeadBall wants answers), and its opening line is “On an April night in 1993 I sat in my pickup truck with a rifle in my lap, deciding whether to kill myself.” Rodman was openly bisexual, headbutted a referee and kicked an opponent in the groin. He earned that title. Morrison, meanwhile is chiefly remembered these days for purportedly snitching on his team-mates regarding their marijuana use while on tour in South Africa. MAD?!?! Not so much.

On the other hand he is pictured with an umbrella in the pool on the cover, and it’s not entirely clear whether he’s wearing any pants. So there is that. Continue reading

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Filed under Bio-logy, Cricket, Reminiscing

Bio-logy: The Greatest – My Own Story

The Greatest

This is the start of a regular column, which will examine the profusion of sportsmen’s bio’s that litter the shelves of secondhand stores all over New Zealand. The vast majority are incredibly bad, and we’ll look at them, as well as the occasional gem (John Arlott’s Fred Trueman bio, Fred for example, a personal favourite).

But first up I’m going with one whose bright yellow spine often catches my eye, and one I have a particular affection for. Muhammad Ali collaborated on this flawed, often brilliant book, with Richard Durham, a black journalist who spent six years with Ali prior to the book’s publication in 1976. It glosses over his early years in favour of his life post conversion to Islam, though there are nonetheless illuminating tales about his life growing up in Louisville, stories breathtaking in their ordinariness, and the simplicity of American life before the ’60s (and Ali) came and changed the shape of the world.

I’ve read a few books on Ali, and The Greatest is neither the best (that would be Norman Mailer’s incomparable The Fight) nor the worst (the risible boomer memoir The Tao of Muhammad Ali takes that prize). But it is hugely entertaining, soaked in the hyperbole and whirlwind blur of Ali at his height.  Continue reading

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Filed under Bio-logy, Boxing