The Fighter

Reviewed By  Janet Mawdesley       October 16, 2015

 

Author  Paul Warren with Jeff Apter

Distributor:     
ISBN:                 978-1-74343-992-0
Publisher:         Allen & Unwin
Release Date:    

Website:    http://www.allenandunwin.com 

It may seem a little left of centre to describe this story as beautiful and powerful, but it is. It is about love, loss, grief, hope and re-creation – all the things that go into making life challenging and ultimately beautiful.

Paul Warren grew up in a somewhat dysfunctional family moving with his family to Toowoomba, Queensland and eventually settling in a little place called Crow’s Nest. His youth was filled with all the things kids do as they are growing up in a small country town, sport being one of the main recreational activities.

His father in a spirit of family bonding registered Paul and his brother Sean in karate classes and this is where he got his taste for Martial Arts; something that was to lead him into becoming a fighter with a reputation for never giving in or up; which ultimately stood him in good stead.

He discovered the challenge of Muay Thai, working his way up through the fight list to becoming a champion of the gruelling and punishing sport earning the name of “Warlord”. Joining the Army seemed to be the next logical step in his choice of work activities, a step up from job in the abattoir; somehow it seemed to be a good fit, a choice which would or could, offer an interesting future.

He eventually found himself as part of a team of soldiers set for an eight month deployment in Afghanistan, a deployment which would change the course of his life irrevocably. Just before this he had met Dearne (Dee), and a budding relationship was commencing, a relationship which would, as time and events unfolded, be his salvation.

On what was considered a routine patrol in the Baluchi Valley which proved to be anything but, an undetected IED was set off resulting in the death of his mate Ben Ranaudo and the loss of his left leg below the knee.

Paul describes his journey through the guilt, loss of his mate, the Defence Departments’ version of repatriation and the depression which almost cost him is family and his life, in a simple and evocative way as he struggled and clawed his way back to some form of normality.

He gives thanks for the people who helped him along the way, his love for Dee as she stuck by him and the salvation, the hope, the desire to re-build his life which came with the birth of his daughter and then his son.

Being invited to become a member of the Australian team to take part in the Invictus Games to be held in London in September 2014, was an event which reignited his desire to compete once again. Refusing to accept that having a hi-tec leg could be an impediment he put his hand up for more than one event, only to discover pretty quickly what was involved in the preparation required to compete at this level. Never one to give in this proved to be a huge turning point in his life, his self-esteem and self- confidence.

He has gone on to become an important spokesperson for and member of Mates4Mates, established to help and support servicemen and women who find themselves in Pauls position; needing special support and understanding to get them back on their feet and heading in the right direction.

Paul’s life to date has not been an easy path but by telling his story it makes it very clear that challenges will arise in life, some bigger than others, but it is how you learn from them that makes the difference.

As already said, a beautiful, inspirational, powerful story, emerging out of one which could have had a far from beautiful ending.