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Becoming a True ChampionBecoming a True Champion

Achieving Athletic Excellence from the Inside Out

Kirk Mango

Narrated by Bob Goding

Available from Audible

Book published by Rowman & Littlefield

Today, aspiring athletes have to work harder and be more dedicated than athletes of previous generations who did not have to contend with the messages of a popular culture that promotes winning at all costs and implicitly condones "shortcuts" to winning. Many of today's athletic superstars glorify and demonstrate cheating and illicit, destructive conduct. Whether off the field antics or on the field cheating through the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs typify an athlete's lack of personal values, the bad behavior displayed by many in a broad range of sports is hard to escape. The result is that too many such negative role models and influences are out there, diverting today's developing competitors down a seductive path to failure rather than upward to excellence and lasting, honest achievement.

Becoming a True Champion: Achieving Athletic Excellence from the Inside Out fills a critical need by speaking in a frank and direct voice directly to today's aspiring athletes about these crucial, controversial issues and the personal choices they face. At the same time the book presents them with the antidote to these negative influences-the fundamental values, attitudes and concepts, both mental and practical, that support and lead to athletic excellence.

A "true champion" is an athlete with the specific qualities of character, mental discipline, and physical skills necessary to generate and keep increasing athletic excellence and success throughout his or her career. These qualities can be learned and developed; they need not be inborn. Becoming a True Champion goes deeply into each quality to show developing athletes how adopting it directly affects and enhances athletic performance, longevity, and dignity. Through relevant examples, inspiring stories, and a personalized approach, the book shows athletes how to avoid the many pitfalls, and overcome the inevitable obstacles, so common in today's sports culture.

Kirk Mango was a collegiate Division I National Champion and gold medalist on the still rings in 1979, defeating several Olympians to earn this honor. The previous year Kirk had won the silver medal on this event in the 1978 Division I National Championships. He was selected as a collegiate All-American in both 1978 and 1979 and to the present day still holds the Northern Illinois University school record for the still rings event. Kirk is also a three-time Hall of Fame athlete and was selected in 2009 as Number 8 on the list of “Top 50 Huskies of All Time” by the NIU Northern Star. He has been a high school teacher for 32 years, coaching for 17 of them. He has coached girls’ gymnastics teams to three conference championships, four regional championships, one sectional championship and three Elite-Eight IHSA (Illinois High School Association) state championship competitions. Kirk has also been a member of the Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, which is dedicated to the promotion of the quality of life through fitness and wellness.


Becoming a True Champion is more than an expert lecture on the keys to sports success, it is a hands-on manual which gives readers practical exercises to help them become the best they can be. Mango has ‘nailed it’ with this book.”

—Bart Conner, Two-time Olympic Gold medalist

“I read it, I loved it, I live it. As a professional athlete in the NFL, I've made many sacrifices in my personal and athletic life. Becoming a True Champion is an inspiration even to me now. It's a great reference for the passionate athlete willing to make sacrifices to achieve true greatness.”

—Steve Weatherford, NY Giants punter

“This is a very insightful book that is extremely beneficial for an athlete of any level. I found this book to really encompass the trials and dedication it takes to give yourself that best opportunity to be successful, not only in sports, but in life. It is definitely a must-have for any young athlete.”

—Rob Scahill, Major League pitcher for the Colorado Rockies

Becoming a True Champion is not only [Kirk Mango’s] story of success in gymnastics, but it is a guide for all athletes in any sport to fully understand what it takes to become a premier athlete. Wonderfully written, this book is a step-by-step process to success in sports. Kirk is careful to explain the hard work, effort and dedication that it takes to become a “true champion.” I highly recommend that any athlete who wants to succeed in his sport must read Becoming a True Champion. Kirk, you have done it again!”

—Lloyd Bachrach, Former USA Paralympic sitting volleyball player and nationally recognized motivational speaker

“Kirk Mango's thoughts, ideas, and concepts are good examples of what’s positive in youth athletics. From their important emphasis on character and responsibility as a young athlete, to their razor sharp focus on what it takes to be successful and how to get there, all are right on. Parents and coaches, as well as the kids themselves, will really benefit from his message.”

—Robert A. Weil, DPM, Sports podiatrist and host of The Sports Doctor Radio Show

Becoming a True Champion is an excellent book that relays the perfect message for any athlete. It is a great book for the elite athlete in that it conveys that you can never work too hard and that any goal you want to reach is attainable. This book will inspire even average athletes who have a true passion for their sport but haven’t quite achieved the success they want. It encourages them to ignore their critics and doubters as well as to work harder than they ever have. They will see that they are in control of their own success.”

—Phil Wunderlich, Minor League infielder for the Tampa Bay Rays

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University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks