When I received Brian Stann‘s Heart for the Fight: A Marine Hero’s Journey from the Battlefields of Iraq to Mixed Martial Arts Champion in the mail, I was intrigued because it looked to be a biography of a veteran and a sports figure. I will flat out say that I had never heard of Stann – I did not know that he was a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter. I do not know much about MMA. I do know that it requires a special person to lead men in Iraq as a platoon leader and succeed at it. Stann is a highly decorated Marine veteran (Silver Star) who served two tours in Iraq. So, it was interesting reading about his two different careers and how they have shaped the person that he is today.
This book is not your typical rah rah me biography. Stann is open about his faults and does not veer away from ugly incidents in his life – Stann’s Marine career was almost prematurely ended because of the actions of another Marine. He is a man who has overcome a lot of adversity in his life – from surviving the gang-filled streets of Scranton, Pennsylvania to the halls and football field of the Naval Academy to the battlefields of Iraq to the octagon of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. His perseverance is astounding.
Stann lives his life in tribute to the men he served with in the Marines (unfortunately, some of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country). Stann’s desire to honor their sacrifice guides him through his fights as a MMA fighter. He takes this commitment seriously – so seriously that he thinks he dishonored them when he lost his first fight. In addition to fighting to honor his comrades, he helps run Hire Heroes USA, a nonprofit that seeks to ensure that our returning servicemen and women have jobs once they leave the military.
Stann writes this in conjunction with John Bruning, an accomplished military historian and writer. The writing is easy to read and follow. The book is a quick read at 312 pages. It includes 16 pages of photographs that chronicle Stann’s life in the Naval Academy, tours in Iraq, and career as an MMA fighter.
This is another book about an Iraq War veteran (with a twist) that is worth a look.