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I was born in the summer of ’59 in Johannesburg, South Africa and went to thirteen different schools in three countries. A wanderlust was forming. At fifteen years of age, whilst attending Rugby school in England, my father informed me it was time to leave home and I soon found myself destitute, living in the subways of London in the middle of winter. Eventually, I found employment and soon returned to South Africa, where I worked as a game ranger in one of the country’s premier game lodges. One night, a lion came into my bedroom while I was sleeping. Judging by his muddy paw prints on the polished slate floor - his head would have been right above mine! The following morning, we tracked the lion and after finding him in a riverbed, the chief tracker turned to me and said:
“Mike, you are so lucky, I’m going to call you Lucky Mike.” So years later, I officially changed my name to Lucky Mike!
After a two-year stint in the South African Navy as a diver, during which I was attacked by a Great White shark and crushed beneath a super tanker, I was discharged – and penniless; so I found work selling specialized fridges and freezers to the farmers around the country. Two years later, I had made enough money, built my yacht and I was twenty-three years old when I set off to sail around the world. It took me five years to complete my circumnavigation and it was a voyage of discovery in so many ways.
I sold the yacht and moved to Johannesburg, where I started two companies. The personal computer had just arrived and it took only an hour to download the previous days stock prices, so I founded a stock market investment newsletter called The Insider. The second company was Attitudes, where we specialised in personal growth on a personal level. We designed a program of achievement through goal setting and the focus of mind and body, the yin and yang of everything. Business was good, but after only two years in the city, the call of the ocean was too great to ignore, so I sold everything, built another yacht and went sailing.
Six years later, I bought a bar and restaurant situated above the calm waters of a sheltered bay on a beautiful Caribbean island and thought my life quite settled at last – but along came a hurricane and blew it all away! Around this time, I decided to face my fear of heights, so I took up skydiving. Two thousand jumps later, there was no fear – only the pursuit of human flight. Taking the adventure a step further, I started BASE-jumping, perhaps the most dangerous and thrilling of all sports.
I have worked on some of the world’s largest and fastest sailing yachts and have a personal record of 28 knots, while sailing single-handed on a 62-foot catamaran between the islands of the Caribbean.
Whilst walking across the road one day, both of my legs collapsed and that was the beginning of two years in a wheelchair. Specialists on four continents could not diagnose the problem and for a while, it seemed as though all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men couldn’t put Humpty together again. I took up meditation, changed my diet and wrote a book, called Dancing on Raindrops. Having felt the pangs of hunger when I lived in the subways, all of the income from the book went towards feeding hungry children. It was great fun and set the foundation for my writings today. Three months later, I could walk, well, if you could call it that, with my bum in the air and 2-inch steps, but I was without knee braces or painkillers. For me, it certainly was walking and today not only can I walk, I can dance … well, if you can call it that!
My latest adventure was a yearlong solo journey into the desolate regions of South and East Africa. I travelled alone in a twelve-year-old vehicle, in which I slept and lived. It was a time of lions and elephants, but also solitude and thought; a journey to an emerald lake on the edge of a vast, bandit-ridden desert.
For the past year, I have lived amongst the mountains and set to task writing three books about my adventures: ‘The Adventures of Lucky Mike’.