The Oscar-nominated documentary Murderball introduced audiences to this world-class athlete and his sport: quad rugby, played in wheelchairs at a headlong pace. Gimp: When Life Deals You a Crappy Hand, You Can Fold—or You Can Play (with co-writer Tim Swanson) is a warts-and-all memoir, from the accident that left him a quadriplegic at eighteen to the challenges of dealing with a different life than he planned for.
Your book opens: “I dream about running all the time.” How difficult is it to be in a wheelchair every day? At first it kind of bothered me; now it is part of the gig. I have replaced running with other activities. I dream about it, but I don’t think about it in everyday life.
When Murderball was being filmed, did anyone suspect it would thrust you into the public eye the way it has? We just wanted to get a movie out there that people would enjoy and have it depict our lives. The directors didn’t want to make a feel-good cripple movie. Just because we are in wheelchairs doesn’t mean we can’t play a fast-paced, full-contact sport.
In the book, you’re intense and less than angelic. Is there a mellow side to Mark Zupan? Of course. I am a very driven person, but I enjoy downtime with my girlfriend, having an adult beverage at a local watering hole, and just hanging out. I am lucky to live in Austin, so I can enjoy the live music.