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Olympic Gangster: The Legend of Josť Beyaert - Cycling Champion, Fortune Hunter and Outlaw: The Legend of Jose Beyaert - Cycling Champion, Fortune Hunter and Outlaw [Paperback]

Matt Rendell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 2 July 2009 --  

Book Description

2 July 2009

Restlessly vital and possessed of great physical strength, José Beyaert lived many lives. During the Second World War, he boxed and trafficked arms for the Resistance on his bicycle. After it, he became an international cyclist. In 1948, a mile from the end of the Olympic road race around Windsor Park, he broke away alone to take the gold medal and started an adventure that would last the rest of his life.

A Tour de France rider in the sport's golden age, José was invited to open a new velodrome in Colombia, South America. He travelled, intending to stay a month. Instead, driven by his thirst for adventure, he stayed for fifty years, becoming by turns athlete, coach, businessman, emerald-trader, logger, smuggler, perhaps even hired killer.

Matt Rendell, who knew José Beyaert and met many of his family, friends and associates, tells the fascinating story of an almost-forgotten sporting hero who, incapable of living to other people's rules, lived his many lives on his own terms.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing; 1st Edition edition (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845963989
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845963989
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 318,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A riveting tale that would be unbelievable were it not for [Rendell's] impeccable research" (Independent on Sunday)

"Separating myth from reality . . . and bringing it together with the sure-handedness we've come to expect is award-winning author Matt Rendell" (The Bookseller)

Book Description

The remarkable biography of a 1948 Olympic cycling champion who became a swashbuckling fortune-hunter in Columbia

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Got bike, will have adventure! 11 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A good easy read.
Any cyclist interested in that period of cycling & the characters it produced will enjoy this
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cycling book 21 Oct 2012
By Scoobie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Olympic gangster is a compelling read. The trials and tribulations of Jose Beyaert and the other riders in a bygone era makes todays performances seem like a walk in the park.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Amazing Title by Matt Rendell that would be Unbelievable were it not True! 5 Jun 2012
By Joseph M. Papp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The publisher initially classified this wonderful book by famed cycling author and journalist Matt Rendell as "True Crime/Sport", but critic Redfern was right when he wrote (in The Independent) that, "Even that eye-catching combination [True Crime/Sport] doesn't begin to do justice to the many lives of Jose Beyeart."

Redfern continued, "His Olympic significance is his victory for France, aged 23, in the cycling road race in Windsor Great Park at the 1948 Games, but by the time he died at the age of 79 he had racked up an almost incredible tally of adventures. Always restless, always pugnacious - his first love had been boxing, and he was a keen barroom brawler throughout his life - he chafed at the servile life of a professional cyclist in Europe, and when offered the chance to cash in on his Olympic fame by opening a velodrome in Colombia he leapt at the chance.

Falling in love with the country and its people, he stayed, winning the inaugural Tour of Colombia in 1952, and over the next 50 years worked variously as national coach, bar owner, factory manager, treasure hunter, emerald miner, logger in the rainforest, drug runner (he was involved with the cocaine smugglers known as The French Connection) and, he hinted, at least once as a paid assassin.

Matt Rendell, who knows Colombia intimately, spent many hours interviewing Beyeart before his death, and has brilliantly pieced together a riveting tale that would be unbelievable were it not for his impeccable research."

There's little point to trying to reinvent the wheel here and surpass Redfern's review, which is spot-on and 100% accurate in the praise it heaps upon Matt Rendell's "Olympic Gangster." You simply can't go wrong with this book, and the surprise appearance of jade in Beyaert's life makes for a captivating tale.

Highly recommended!
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting.... 23 April 2013
By pandah - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Interesting and an unexpected read. More people should check out this book. It reminds you to life your life to its fullest.
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