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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Harnessing Anger

The Inner Discipline of Athletic Excellence

by Peter Westbrook

Book cover for Harnessing Anger
Book cover for Harnessing Anger

With Tej Hazarika

To Peter Westbrook, "harnessing anger" means controlling one's fury and channeling it in a positive direction. Westbrook's success in what he once called "that strange white sport" is really just one expression of the self-discipline that has led him to beat the odds, again and again.

Peter Westbrook is listed in The Guinness Book of Records as the all-time winningest American record holder in U.S. National Sabre championships. In 1995, at the age of 43, although the average retirement age for world class tournament fencers is 34, Westbrook won two gold medals for the U.S. at the 1995 Pan American Games. In 1996, he was one of only three American sabrists chosen to compete for the gold in the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, his sixth Olympic Games, an incredible twenty-year Olympic career.

In Harnessing Anger, Westbrook tells how he came to be the first African American to win a national gold title in sabre fencing. The son of an African-American father and a Japanese mother, Peter was raised by his mother alone in poverty in a Newark ghetto. Becoming a fencer at an early age gave him the confidence and the discipline to use an ancient martial art to his advantage both in swordplay and when facing the vicissitudes of daily life in the inner city.

The autobiography of this 6-time Olympian, 13-time U.S. National champion and the only book on his amazing life, Harnessing Anger tells us how Westbrook has overcome strong adversaries on and off the fencing mat.

Book cover for Harnessing Anger
Book cover for Harnessing Anger

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She taught us that we should never give up in our endeavors. She would literally tell us not to cry, to work hard, to be ethical, and to fight to achieve our goals. And if we should survive the fight, she said, we should get up and fight some more.

“Westbrook may not be a household name among the general public, but in fencing circles, he is legendary … Young athletes-fencers especially-will benefit from Westbrook's motivational message and enjoy the exciting match accounts. The rest of us can identify with-and learn from-a man who had to keep the very quality that led to his success from becoming a negative factor in his life. An outstanding sports autobiography.”

“Written in a simple, honest, and direct voice, this is an inspiring memoir about being poor and biracial; learning confidence and self-control; understanding the cultural differences within our country; and mastering the psychology and politics of competition and winning. Westbrook is living proof of the tremendous difference that harnessing anger through the discipline of sport can make.”

“Westbrook's book leads the readers into a world where the discipline of fencing not only brought him national and international championships, but inner peace and self-awareness.”

“The most influential fencer in New York today is Peter Westbrook.”

Peter Westbrook

One of the greatest American fencers of recent years, Peter Westbrook was a 6-time Olympian and Bronze Medalist at the 1984 Olympic Games, as well as a 6-time Pan-American Games Team Member, Gold medalist in 1983 and 1995, and a 13-time United States Champion. Currently, he is President of the Peter Westbrook Foundation and a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Westbrook has been featured countless times in print and electronic media, including appearances on The Today Show, CNN, TBS, and BET, and in the New York Times, People, the Village Voice, the New York Daily News, the Newark Star Ledger, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, among others.