Monday, March 17, 2008

Taming the Tiger

First sentence: Shane D’Souza was barely recognisable.

Chapter One of Taming the Tiger opens with a gory scene of a Sri Lankan inmate, being violated beyond recognition in Cyprus’s notorious Nicosia Central Prison. That chapter sets the stage for the author, Tony Anthony to begin his real-life story as a kid who got acquainted with Kung Fu (not by his will), who subsequently became a close protection security officer or bodyguard (think The Bodyguard, a film about a guy who protects a celebrity singer played by Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston), and then landed in jail – twice, of which one was in Nicosia.

I finished Taming the Tiger (245 pages) in one sitting; well, two actually (last night and this afternoon during lunch)... Reading it is like watching a Kung Fu movie, and God plays a major role in 'straightening' him out. As I read his story, I can’t help but think back about the times I watched all those Kung Fu movies, especially Jet Li’s Tai Chi Master (watch the YouTube video to catch a glimpse of what it is all about) which is my favourite movie of all times. I can easily imagine the parts where Tony describes his Kung Fu training.

At the young age of four, Tony was sent away by his parents in London to his grandfather in China to learn the art. Just in case you’re wondering, Tony’s father is an Italian while his mother is a Chinese. The young boy suffered greatly under harsh discipline, being beaten daily using bamboo by his grandfather. It was all part of his training. Do read his story for a detailed description of what he went through (and here people think going to the gym is torture!). He eventually mastered the art and earned the respect of his grandfather, whom he called Lowsi. Tony became a three-time World Kung Fu Champion.

His life took a different turn when he became a close protection security officer or bodyguard to some of the world’s wealthiest, most powerful and influential people. He fell in love with a beautiful but blind girl, and then something unfortunate happened. He became uncontrollable and that was when he ended up in the dreadful Nicosia. From a Kung Fu master known for obedience and self-control, he turned into a bloodthirsty, violent man. I cringed reading the gory details of the nightmarish incidents in Nicosia.

The later part of the book tells the story of a changed man and his testimony of how God turns his life around and uses him to reach out to others – some of the most hardcore criminals – while in prison. His message is this: “that of a broken man made whole, a wicked man forgiven, a life restored, made new and filled with joy for the present and hope for the future”.

The book, co-written with Angela Little, is dedicated to Michael Wright – the man and stranger who made a huge difference in Tony’s life; a turning point. Read his awe-inspiring testimony for yourself! I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.