Doug Merlino

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Doug Merlino is an American writer and journalist.

Personal history[edit]

Merlino grew up in Seattle, Washington and attended the Lakeside School.[1] He studied government at Claremont McKenna College[2] in Los Angeles, and received graduate degrees in journalism and international affairs from the University of California, Berkeley.[3] He lived in Budapest, Hungary, where he worked as an editor at the Budapest Business Journal.[4] He is married and now lives in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City.[3]

Professional work[edit]

Merlino has worked for publications including Slate, Wired, Men's Journal, the Budapest Business Journal, and the Seattle Times.[3] He reported on post-genocide reconciliation in Rwanda for the PBS show Frontline/World.[5]

Merlino's first book, The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black and White,[6] was published by Bloomsbury USA in January 2011. The nonfiction book tells the story of a basketball team that Merlino played on as a 14-year-old in the 1986.[7] The team, an integration experiment, mixed privileged white players from Merlino's private school with African-American kids from Seattle's Central Area. The boys won an AAU championship that season, and the organizers began a program to enroll some of the black players in private schools.[8]

Several years later Merlino learned that Tyrell Johnson, one of his African-American teammates, had been murdered and dismembered.[1] This spurred him to track down the remaining players to find out what happened to them, and how they looked back at their team. They include a hedge fund manager, a Pentecostal preacher, a prosecutor, a frequently incarcerated cocaine addict, a winemaker, and a street hustler.[6][9] The resulting book tells the story of these individuals, but also focuses on the shifting dynamics of race and class, manhood, education and gentrification over the last thirty years.[10] Many of the players and coaches from the team reunited in January 2011 for a televised panel discussion that coincided with the release of the book.[11]

Merlino's second full-length book, Beast: Blood, Struggle and Dreams at the Heart of Mixed Martial Arts [12] was published by Bloomsbury USA in October 2015. It details two years that Merlino spent following professional MMA fighters from elite American Top Team in Florida.[13] The main fighters profiled include Jeff Monson, an American anarchist rising to fame on the Russian fight circuit; Daniel Straus, a Cincinnati native fighting his way toward a title shot after a stint in prison; Steve Mocco, an NCAA champion wrestler and Olympian attempting to make the transition to cage fighting; and Mirsad Bektic, a Bosnian refugee and one of the sport’s top prospects.[14] The book was praised for its gritty realism in outlets ranging from No Holds Barred[15] to the New York Times Book Review.[16]

Merlino has also published an e-book, The Crossover: A Brief History of Basketball and Race, from James Naismith to Lebron James.[17]


Merlino received the 2011 Washington State Book Award in Biography/Memoir for The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black and White.[18]


  1. ^ a b Westneat, Danny (January 1, 2011). "A Courtside Seat to an Experiment in the Elusive Goal of Integration". Seattle Times. Retrieved April 16, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Musical Tea." The Fortnightly, Claremont McKenna College. January 20, 1992. "[1]" Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Official website". 
  4. ^ Merlino, Doug. "Mass Media for a Minority." Central Europe Review. October 18, 2002. "[2]" Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  5. ^ Merlino, Doug. "After the Genocide." Frontline/World. December 2003. "[3]" Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Merlino, Doug (2011). The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black and White. New York, NY: Bloomsbury USA. ISBN 978-1-60819-215-1. 
  7. ^ "Book Review: The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black and White." Kirkus. October 1, 2010. "[4]" Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  8. ^ Morrison, Douglas. "The Novel Road Interview: Doug Merlino." The Novel Road. February 11, 2011. "[5]" Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  9. ^ Lightfoot, Judy (March 31, 2001). "A Captivating Hustle". Retrieved August 20, 2011. 
  10. ^ Tjarks, Jonathan. "Book Review: Doug Merlino's 'The Hustle.'" Open Salon. March 5, 2001. ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2011-04-17. " Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  11. ^ "Town Square: One Team and Ten Lives". Seattle Channel. January 27, 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Merlino, Doug (2015). Beast: Blood, Struggle and Dreams at the Heart of Mixed Martial Arts. New York: Bloomsbury USA. ISBN 9781620401552. 
  13. ^ "Beast: Blood, Struggle and Dreams at the Heart of Mixed Martial Arts". Bloomsbury USA. 
  14. ^ "Beast: Blood Struggle and Dreams at the Heart of Mixed Martial Arts". 
  15. ^ Goldman, Eddie. "No Holds Barred: Doug Merlino on "Beast: Blood, Struggle and Dreams at the Heart of Mixed Martial Arts"". No holds Barred. 
  16. ^ Taylor, Ishan (November 30, 2015). "Sports: 'The Grind,' 'Billion-Dollar Ball,' and More". The New York Times. 
  17. ^ "The Crossover". 
  18. ^ Gwinn, Mary Ann. "2011 Washington State Book Award Winners". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 

External links[edit]