Jon Fitch: Failure, Triumph, Ego and Wisdom

In the spring of 2000, in the aftermath of his worst-ever college wrestling season, which saw the Purdue University physical education major earn just eight wins against 31 defeats, Jon Fitch started documenting his workouts in a journal to keep himself accountable. In the opening chapter of his new book, Failing Upward/Death by Ego, he describes this undertaking as a way of re-committing himself to his craft, internalizing a more positive mindset and escaping the pitfalls of partying and toxic relationships. “You can lie to others,” Fitch reasoned, “but you can’t lie to yourself.”

Fitch’s initial journal entries, set out in first quarter of the book — itself the first volume in an eventual four-part series — are brief but revealing. He obsesses about his weight, his diet and his wrestling and weight-lifting routines, reiterating his goals (“need to get stronger,” “kill the beast”) whilst chastising himself for his shortcomings (“I ate way too much last night. I’m a f—ing pussy, I have to stick to my diet.”). Between the entries, present-day Fitch runs a commentary on his life at the time, reflecting on his formative experiences and setting us up for the parts of the journey — both in the cage and out — that we are more familiar with.

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