16 Sports Autobiographies that Inspire you to Succeed

Successful sports people offer a unique insight into their lives. DESIblitz presents 16 sports autobiographies that will inspire you to follow your dreams.

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“I have never seen anyone talented as Wasim.”

From a personal perspective to handling pressure and being successful, sports autobiographies can be very inspirational.

Globally talented sports people have taken readers on a mesmerising journey, providing a real insight into their lives.

Sports autobiographies celebrate the accomplishments of famous icons in their respective discipline. They also comprise of many stories, controversies, statistics, anecdotes and much more.

Many of the individuals have written their autobiographies whilst remaining active in their chosen sports.

However, there are others who made the decision to share their compelling accounts after retiring.

Here are 16 sports autobiographies, focusing on South Asian stars, along with international greats:

The Greatest: My Own Story – Muhammad Ali (1975)

16 Sports Autobiographies that Inspire you to Succeed - Muhammad Ali

The Greatest: My Own Story is an autobiography by the majestic boxer Muhammad Ali (late).

Using his own words in the book, the three times heavyweight world champion presents the battles he was up against inside and outside the ring.

The multifaceted autobiography portrays Muhammad as a fighting great: he was unregretful, a peacemaker, poetic, a loving person and a lone warrior.

In the beginning, there is a chronology about his personal life and boxing. A record of his fights up till 1975 comes next.

The book is also full of many motivational quotes. One of them is about the positive aspect of being a champion:

“Let them remember you as a winner, never come back beaten.”

After reading this book, people will understand why he was the sportsperson of the 20th century. The book cover shows Muhammad packing a punch with the utmost determination.

The New York Times also praised the autobiography, with a description at the back of the book, which reads:

“A splendid action-packed hurricane of a book.”

Richard Durham is the main collaborator of the book, with Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison editing it.

Random House had the honour of publishing the original, releasing it in 1975.

Wasim: The Autobiography of Wasim Akram (1998)

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Wasim: The Autobiography of Wasim Akram is a wonderful story about the world’s most naturally artistic all-rounder.

The book explores the many controversies of contemporary cricket through the eyes of Wasim.

He opens up about the harsh exchanges on the field, his heroics from the 1992 Cricket World Cup, the ball-tampering issue, frank English county analysis and the art of reverse swing.

His first wife Huma Mufti (late) a psychologist by profession also contributes to the book, telling how she was helping her hubby to deal with the mental side of the game.

The front cover shows Wasim in his traditional white kit for Lancashire County.

The back cover has two images of Wasim. The first is a side-on action shot of him about to deliver the ball with his quick arm action.

The second image shows him looking at the ball, whilst playing for Pakistan in a Test match.

The back cover also has quotes complimenting the gifted cricket player also famous as the ‘Sultan of Swing.’ This includes one from Imran stating: “I have never seen anyone talented as Wasim.”

Sportswriter and broadcaster Patrick Murphy was the main collaborator with Wasim to write this book.

The hardback version was first published on April 23, 1998, by Platkus Books.

Aravinda: My Autobiography – Aravinda de Silva (2003)

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Aravinda: My Autobiography is the story of the amazing Sri Lankan middle-order batsman.

This biography about the boy wonder of Sri Lanka cricket, Aravinda de Silva is quite descriptive. The book details the twilight of his nineteen-year career.

His most impressive moment came when helping The Islanders lift their maiden Cricket World Cup trophy in 1996

In the final, Aravinda was declared man of the match for taking 3-42, holding two catches and remaining unbeaten on 107. His seven test centuries and following Buddhism also are mentioned in the book.

In addition, the book outlines Aravinda’s humble nature, as he himself perceives the sport as a “great definer of character.”

Former Australian Test captain Ian Chappel offers a generous foreword for the book too.

Co-author Shahriar Khan was accompanying Aravinda across the globe to collect information for this autobiography.

Without an index, this book came to fruition on May 27, 1999, under Mainstream Publishing.

Cutting Edge: My Autobiography – Javed Miandad (2003)

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Cutting Edge: My Autobiography is the story of Javed Miandad, a jesty and jaw-dropping cricketer on the international scene.

The brave former Pakistani cricket champion takes readers on a completely engrossing journey. The compelling book revisits his life from Karachi to playing Test cricket in every corner of the world.

The autobiography underlines his numerous achievements, including smashing a six off the final ball against India and contributing to the 1992 Cricket World Cup win.

He also openly talks about the time when he was the coach and being disappointed on several issues.

At the end of the book, there are some cricket statistics, highlighting his twenty-year career. Many cricket magazines have given favourable reviews to this comprehensive autobiography.

Wisden Asia Cricket describes the book as “an enthralling insight into the world of Javed Miandad and Pakistan.”

The late English cricketer turned commentator Tony Greig co-wrote the book with Miandad.

Releasing first on June 26, 2003, Oxford University Press are the publishers of Cutting Edge: My Autobiography.

Straight from the Heart: An Autobiography – Kapil Dev (2004)

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Straight from the Heart: An Autobiography has been penned down by former Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev.

The book deals with his illustrious seventeen-year career, including leading India to world cup glory in 1983. The autobiography mentions his equally dominating efforts with bat and ball against different sides.

He writes about the four consecutive sixes he hit off English spinner Eddie Hemmings to avoid a Test cricket follow on.

In addition, he talks about his early years, wife Romi Bhatia, playing golf and the relationship with teammate Sunil Gavaskar.

He goes into detail about the match-fixing allegations made against him by fellow countryman, Manoj Prabhakar. Expressing a sense of injustice, Kapil feels he had to defend himself against the accusations in the book.

The autobiography is quite lengthy with 374 pages to go through. However, the book is a testimony to the stature of this keen cricketer.

This simple and honest book will touch the hearts of many admirers, especially with his emotional references.

Sharing similar sentiments, a reviewer of the book on Goodreads comments: “An honest, and perhaps a slightly biased story of one of India’s greatest cricketers.”

The autobiography is a Macmillan publication, with its first edition releasing in 2004.

El Diego – Diego Maradona (2004)

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El Diego is an autobiography about the greatest footballer of his generation, Diego Maradona. The Argentinian football player provides his version, allowing readers to decide if he was a hero or villain.

The captivating story sees Maradona unleashing everything one needs to know about him.

El Diego covers many areas, including Maradona’s poor upbringing in Buenos Aires, leading Argentina to the top during Mexico 86 and showing his class at the European level.

Most important, he speaks about struggling with the internal and external pressures of the sport.

Following an introduction and Reader’s Note, there are thirteen chapters in the book. The autobiography comes to a finish with an appendix and index.

Summing up the book, Martin Amis from the Guardian says:

“This is an operatically emotional book, and also an exceptionally vivid one”

Specialising in Argentinian football, journalist and writer Marcela Mora Y Araujo was responsible for translating the book into English.

The book is an imprint of Yellow Jersey Press and was first published in 2004.

Twenty20 Vision: My Life and Inspiration – Mushtaq Ahmed (2006)

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Twenty20 Vision: My Life and Inspiration is the autobiography of former Pakistani leg-break googly bowler, Mushtaq Ahmed.

The book contains magic moments about this colourful and exuberant character also known as Mushy. The autobiography will attract readers to his 14-year long career.

Key topics in the book include reviving the art of leg-spin, his stellar performances during the 1992 Cricket World Cup triumph and making a mark with Sussex County.

The book also draws attention to some of the difficult times in his career. Subsequently, how spirituality brought about good changes to his life.

The autobiography is a beacon of hope for readers, inspiring many to never give up when facing difficulties.

Mushy’s former skipper, Imran Khan has graced the book by sharing his thoughts in the foreword section.

Bruce Talbot summarising the book for The Wisden Cricketer says this is “the Pakistan and Sussex spinner’s brutally honest portrayal of his life and career so far.”

Andrew Sibson has co-written the autobiography with Mushtaq. The first edition came out on October 26, 2006, under the banner of Methuen Publishing.

A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold – Abhinav Bindra (2011)

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A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold is the autobiography of renowned shooter Abhinav Bindra.

The book focuses on his remarkable feat at the 2010 Olympic Games, claiming gold in the 10-meter air rifle discipline.

The underlining message of the book is that being hungry for success is the key to fulfilling your dreams. In the autobiography, he states that it was German coach Gabriele Buhlman who guided him to gold.

When going for gold, Abhinav expresses he took inspiration from other shooters such as Jaspal Rana and Anjali Bhagwat.

In the book, he also alludes to the fact that the stakes are higher for an Olympic participant.

Unlike cricketers or golfers who participate in many events, Olympic shooters only get one bite at the cherry every four years.

With Abhinav having writing limitations, he had to collaborate with sportswriter Rohit Brijnath on this book.

Harper Sport made this unique autobiography available from October 20, 2011. However, the book was formally released by Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken at an event in New Delhi on October 27, 2011.

The book has gone on to receive good reviews in India and around the world.

The Test of My Life: From Cricket to Cancer and Back – Yuvraj Singh (2012)

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The Test of My Life: From Cricket to Cancer and Back is an autobiography by former Indian middle-order batsman, Yuvraj Singh.

The book reveals the story of his emotional conquest at the 2011 Cricket World Cup, whilst suffering from throat cancer.

The book describes him breaking down on the cricket field and his fears when undergoing chemotherapy.

The autobiography is a very personal and moving account, reflecting on his will to succeed and survive.

Yuvraj who is known as Yuvi and Prince also touches upon his parents in The Test of My Life. Yuvraj confesses his father Yograj Singh had a dominating impact on his cricket career.

He also acknowledges that his mother Shabnam Singh was a big pillar of support, particularly when overcoming adversity.

Accepting a new lease of life, Yuvraj positively looks ahead, stating:

“I see that I have been given a second chance in life and I know that I intend to spend it running. If I fall, as I will, I look forward to dusting myself off and running again. That I can do.”

Releasing on March 19, 2012, Random House India is the publisher of this autobiography. Sharda Ugra and Nishant Jeet Arora are the co-authors of the book.

Pakistan: A Personal History – Imran Khan (2012)

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Pakistan: A Personal History is the autobiography of former Pakistan cricket captain, Imran Khan.

This non-fiction work is the journey from cricket to forming his own political party in Pakistan. The book chronicles his incredible achievements on the cricket pitch as a great all-rounder.

The book summarises his Test career, leading the Pakistan side and the famous 1992 Cricket World Cup victory with his Cornered Tigers.

The autobiography also explains his relationship with his first wife, Jemima Khan. Fluency is quite evident when reading this autobiography.

Reviewing the book for the Independent, Arifa Akbar wrote:

“This book, an intelligently written mix of Pakistan’s history and his own autobiography, reflects on the challenges that Khan faced in cricket and later, in his humanitarian work.”

Available in a variety of formats, the book was released on June 21, 2012, courtesy of Bantam Press.

The book has over 440 pages, suggesting it is quite an in-depth read.

Playing To Win – Saina Nehwal (2012)

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Playing to Win is the official autobiography of ace Indian badminton player, Saina Nehwal. The book is a written account of her successful racquet sports journey.

This superb memoir celebrates her career, which includes becoming the first player from India to clinch an Olympic medal.

The book sheds light on Saina’s early years, growing up and the connection she had with the most significant people around her.

The autobiography emphasises her influence in elevating Indian badminton to virtually every TV screen in the country.

Badminton fans who want to know more about Saina will enjoy Playing To Win. This book looks at her life both on and off the court.

A reader reviewing the book on Amazon believes it will encourage more Indian sportspeople to do well:

“I think stories like this can inspire millions of Indians to perform well in the sports world.”

The first edition of the book came out on September 28, 2012. Penguin India was fortunate to publish this fascinating autobiography.

Faster than Lightning – Usain Bolt (2013)

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Faster than Lightening is the autobiography of former upbeat Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. The book starts with his younger days when he had a big passion for cricket and football.

After successfully overcoming scoliosis and surviving a high-speed car crash, Usain moved into the fast lane. From then on he collected several gold medals and set world records during multi-sports events.

He had multiple gold medals at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic Games.

In the autobiography, he observes his style of running due to being tall. Being mentally prepared and his inner desire to remain the best are also touched upon in his autobiography.

Additionally, he tracks life at home and his popular lightning bolt pose, which followed him everywhere.

Usain wrote this exciting book all by himself. Containing just over 300 pages, it was published by Harper Collins in 2013.

Fans of his charming and charismatic personality will have a good laugh when reading Usain’s autobiography.

Nurturing, enjoy life, overpowering obstacles and sacrifice are some of the key themes of this book.

The Race of My Life: An Autobiography – Milkha Singh (2013)

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The Race of My Life: An Autobiography is the story of Indian athlete Milkha Singh. After introducing his birth and family, the book also reflects other aspects.

Milkha’s early days include an escape from death during partition, running away from the police after committing theft and his life-changing experience with the army.

The autobiography rounds-up his excellent performances on the track, fetching him the title of ‘Flying Sikh.’ He earnt a gold medal in the 440 yards (400 metres) sprint at the1958 British Empire Commonwealth Games.

The book stresses on Milkha running all his life – from both different places and situations. He shares the highs and lows of his life in the book.

His daughter Sonia Sanwalka is the co-writer of his autobiography. The film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) was an adaptation of the book, celebrating the sprinters’ life.

His son Jeev Milkha Singh who is a professional golfer has contributed with the introduction of the book. Meanwhile, the foreword of the book comes through Bollywood director Omprakash Mehra.

Pratibha Jain an editor at India Book Store reviews the autobiography, writing: “His entire journey is truly stimulating.

“It will imbue you with a sense of determination, and will teach you to possess strong willpower which will ultimately lead you to fulfil your dreams.”

The Race of My Life is a quick read, having less than 200 pages. The first edition came out in 2013 via Rupa Publications.

Playing It My Way – Sachin Tendulkar (2014)

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Playing it My Way is the autobiography of former Indian cricket legend, Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin also familiar as the ‘Master Blaster’ is one of the greatest Indian athletes from his era.

The book covers his early life and International cricket career, spread over twenty-four years. The best-seller also divulges information, which was previously not in the public domain.

Contrary to the book, former Australian cricketer Greg Chapell denies ever advising Tendulkar about taking over the captaincy from Rahul Dravid, ahead of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

Similar to other famous accounts, Tendulkar says it was not possible to present every minute point:

“No autobiography can claim to document every detail of the author’s life.”

Nevertheless, the book provides a more deep insight into Sachin’s life and the inspiration behind his successful journey.

Playing It My Way was made available from November 6, 2014. Publishers Hodder & Stoughton took care of the book worldwide, with Hachette India managing the sub-continent.

Besides Tendulkar, sports journalist Boriam Majumdar is the co-author of the autobiography.

Ace against Odds – Sania Mirza (2016)

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Ace against Odds is the autobiography of professional Indian tennis star Sania Mirza. The book tells the story of her tennis journey, eventually becoming a top female player in the world.

Sania highlights her accomplishments that include winning several grand slam titles and reaching number one in the women’s doubles

In the book, she shares some of her unforgettable times on the court and away from it. Developing a connection with certain people has had a major contribution to her tennis and personal growth.

According to Sania, the book can be very inspirational to the future generation:

“I hope the book is a useful roadmap to guide the next generation of tennis players from India.

“If my story can inspire even one youngster to the heights of winning a Grand Slam in the future, I will feel blessed.”

The Badshah of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan officially launched the book at an event in Hyderabad during July 2016.

Her father Imran Mirza and Shivani Gupta are the assisting authors of the autobiography. Harper Sport published Ace against Odds on July 4, 2016.

Game Changer – Shahid Afridi (2019)

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Game Changer is the autobiography of Pakistan cricket sensation Shahid Afridi, otherwise known as ‘Boom Boom.’

The gripping memoir accentuates the career and successes of cricket’s most exciting player. The book is an outspoken assessment of his life, including stories that he disclosed publicly for the first time.

The autobiography takes the readers on a riveting journey. This includes a modest early life in Pakistan’s North-West region, growing up in Karachi, smashing a record-breaking century and his super performances during the 2009 World T20 competition.

He also talks about his battles and associations, especially with India. Additionally, readers will get to understand his admiration for the armed forces.

He also does not shy away from discussing corruption within cricket. Afridi is particularly very critical about the leadership of Waqar Younis in the book. He said:

“He was a mediocre captain but a terrible coach, always micromanaging and getting in the way, trying to tell the captain – me – what to do…”

“It was a natural clash and it was bound to happen.”

All cricket fans worldwide will enjoy reading the thirty-eight chapters of this autobiography.

The multi-media journalist and anchor Wajahat Saeed Khan co-wrote this hard-hitting book with Afridi. Harper Sport is the publisher of this autobiography, which came to light on April 30, 2019.

There are other sports autobiographies which you may fancy to read. They include Sunny Days (1977), Sir Vivian: The Definitive Autobiography (2000) Ronnie: The Autobiography of Ronnie O’Sullivan (2003) and Pele: The Autobiography (2007).

Meanwhile, all the aforementioned sports autobiographies will capture the attention of the readers. Furthermore, they will inspire many young athletes to chase their dreams.

Faisal has creative experience in the fusion of media and communication and research which increase awareness of global issues in post-conflict, emerging and democratic societies. His life motto is: "persevere, for success is near..."