How UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock became ‘The world’s most dangerous man’
Ken Shamrock has dominated in the world of fighting sports becoming a UFC hall of famer, making his mark in the wresting arena and reviving the sport of bare knuckle pit-fighting. This is the story of how Shamrock became ‘the world’s most dangerous man.’
In the world of fighting sports, there is a name that garners respect around the world – and that name is Ken Shamrock.
For years, Shamrock dominated the UFC and, after transitioning to the WWF, he became a household name. But the question is, How did Shamrock become the “world’s most dangerous man” and why?
In a recent interview with Fox News, Shamrock spoke about his childhood, his legacy in the world of fighting sports and his new Bare Knuckle Valor event.
Fox News: How did you get the title of “the world’s most dangerous man?”
Ken Shamrock: Back in the day, when I was fighting over in Japan and then, of course, went into the UFC and I was fighting there, this TV station came in and they were highlighting the world's most dangerous food, animals, places and person. And they elected me as their person as the world's most dangerous man.
LAS VEGAS, NV – FEBRUARY 03: Ken Shamrock poses for a portrait on February 3, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
When they came, this was in '94 I believe it was, we weren't looked at very well. We were like people that were animals, like human cockfighting. And so we weren't getting a lot of pleasant reviews. So when they came and wanted to do the story I basically was like, "hold up, what's your angle?" Because I had three kids obviously and a family and I didn't want to drag them through any unnecessary public criticism with them showing the family and all the things that they wanted to do. So I wanted to know what their direction was going to be and when they explained the first part of the shot I loved it. What they wanted to do was put me in the ring in a corner jumping up and down, getting ready to go. And then they would pan over to the other corner and they would hit this shadow. And it was this shadow that had headgear on, these gloves and then they would pan down to the shoe and it was wrestling shoe and then it would go up the leg and the leg looked kind of small for the wrestling shoe, and then it went up the leg, then up to the glove where the big glove was on there, and then up the chest and arm, and then right up to the head. And it was my 10-year-old son, who had headgear on, his big old boxing gloves and a sword fight. And he came across and started punching me, started wrestling. What they wanted to do, which I think turned the tide of how people looked at us. We became human. We became no different than the rest of people out there, we just did something different for our job. And it added some humanity to who we were and what we were. We weren't these people that came out of prison and were killing people.
Fox News: What was your childhood like? Were there any moments that stood out to you that may have had a major impact on your life?
Ken Shamrock: My mom, biological mother, wasn't home a lot; she worked as a go-go dancer. And I remember one time when she was and I don't remember too many times being home, her being there with us, but I remember there's a store around the corner. And we were walking back and as we were walking back, we were in this bad area, really it was the ghetto. And this is where we lived. I mean we're walking on the sidewalk and there were these hills and I was five years old this time and so this is very clear to me. We're walking between these houses kind of in a dark area. And as we were walking and it was about right when the sun started going down, wasn't pitch dark anything, but it was just starting to fade away, you could still see this guy came from behind the bushes and he had his trousers pulled over his head and from the neck down he was naked and he literally started chasing after my mother. And so my mom grabbed my hand and started pulling me and we had gone to the store. So there was a bag of groceries and milk and different things in there and she dropped it. And I remember she pulled me all the way home. She was screaming and crying and you know the guy was obviously wasn't around. She ran. I don't even know what happened I just know that's what I saw. Next thing I know I was being drug on the cement. When I got home my knees were just bloody and scraped to the bone. That's kind of that area that we lived in, where there was a constant battle and a constant war going on. And at a young age, you're constantly fighting people and constantly in and out of trouble because that's just where you were. And yes. So that was something I remembered. And then I don't remember too much but there are certain things like that that I do remember.
Fox News: Did this put you in a position to feel like you had to learn to defend not only yourself but those around you as well?
Ken Shamrock: Yeah. It wasn't pretty. I remember we had moved from Georgia, where I grew up, and we moved to Napa, which was more middle class. And it was pretty much predominantly African-American where I lived at in Georgia. And then we moved to this all-white neighborhood.
I remember being there I did not fit in. I did not relate well to people who did not understand the culture. I dress differently I acted differently. I talk differently. And I remember in school my first day I was in grade school.
And these kids started talking about me. I was 10 years old at this time. And I saw them talking and I saw the crowds start to gather. I put my back up against the wall because I knew that something was going to happen. At least I had some protection. So these kids started walking up and I remember in my mind I'm like 'OK I've got to figure out which one of these guys is the alpha male. Which one of these guys is the leader?' And something I learned at a young age, you know you got to go after whoever is the biggest and the baddest guy. Take them out. They start walking over, I got my head down and just as I start to punch I hear this. ‘What, do you think you're tough?’
My mind is thinking like did they come here to fight me or to talk to me. And I can't figure out whether they're here to fight me or whether they're here to just talk to me. I mean no, they're not being nice, but I still can't tell because where I am from, it don't happen like that. So he started talking about well, after school and meet me at the gym at three o'clock and we're going to fight. I was like I don't understand that right. That never happened where I was at. But he said the word 'fight' now. I knew that.
And I hit him. And as I hit him he went down and I started kicking him in the face and body in case he wanted to get up. I knew I had a couple of others I had to deal with. So as I'm kicking him, I am waiting for me to get hit so I look up., and these guys are running, they're gone. I got sent home from school first day and that's when I knew who I was and what I was going to be.
It basically made me an A person that didn't care. And that the only way you were gonna survive is taking care of you. That.
There was no love, I don't remember being told 'I love you,' I don't remember any of that stuff. So what that did was that – you know you have a couple of different kinds of characters right. One of them is like they feel victimized and the other character is the one that does the victimizing which is what I became because I wasn't going to allow somebody to victimize me.
Fox News: Tell me about your rivalry with Royce Gracie, what did that do to you as a fighter?
Ken Shamrock: It was unsettling actually. It feels like a story that I had never finished. I felt like I was better. I felt like the opportunities that I had gotten had been changed, all the time rules changing time limits changing things that were set up to favor them and not me and his brothers and his family, the ones that were running the organization. It just felt like constantly they were always trying to put some sort of problem in front of me so that I couldn't get where I wanted to go. You can't deny the guy's ability. He was good. He won a bunch of tournaments. He was good. So can you imagine somebody being that good and you being good but you don't have all the experience that they have. I had two-and-a-half years. He had 20 years in personally, and then 50 years with his family. And then you have to fight adversity all the way through the event. And so it just felt like it was constantly roadblocks putting in front of me. And then when I finally got the chance to fight them where it was gonna be even mano a mano like there was no family involved. It was just me and him in the ring.
‘He knees me in the nuts and the ref doesn't see it, And they raise his hand.’
American professional wrestler Ken Shamrock and Brazilian Royce Gracie on the ring during the 1995 Ultimate Fighting Championship. (Photo by Evan Hurd/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)
And then he goes into the press conference and says well, that's how we used to fight. Like, he did it on purpose. And so it was one of those things when people mentioned his name. I respect him. I respect him as a fighter. What he did for the sport and what he did with beating a lot of guys. But on the flip side of that I also know what kind of person he is outside the ring and that I can't see anybody accepting a win knowing that you landed a low shot knowing that you did that and then you just saying, 'Oh yeah, I beat him.'
Fox News: How did you transition from UFC to wrestling?
Ken Shamrock: It was good. I mean obviously the same kind of situation where the company could not pay me when I needed to, I had fighters house, I had gyms, I had family and a group home for kids, all these things I was supporting and I wasn't able to make the money I needed to because we were constantly in and out of court trying to get fights to go on in these different states. So they were just spending a lot of money. And I remember when my time came up, I was promised a certain thing for a contract, and Bob Meyowitz came to me to say, ‘I just, you know, we just don't have the money right now. We're constantly in and out of court. I can't pay you what you need.’ And I said well, I understand that but I do. I truly do. But I got to do something else because I can't support my family with what I'm going to be getting. And I said that would be a problem. I said but I'm going to go do something and we get this thing figured out and starts rolling I'll come back. So that's when I went into pro wrestling. So I trained with Bret Hart and he helped me understand the psychology of wrestling and how to take that 'world's most dangerous man' and be able to put in a pro wrestling ring and how to do what I do and not do it like pro wrestlers. 'Don't be a pro wrestler. Be the world's most dangerous man.' And that's what I took most from Brett. That's why Vince brought you here be the world's most dangerous man. And so when I went in against Vader that very first match, there we went at it. Great match. I enjoyed it, fans loved it. And that was an experience for me because then I got an understanding about what I really needed to do to be a pro wrestler.
Fox News: Are there any dream matches that you never got that you could possibly still have one day?
Ken Shamrock: There's a lot of, you know, there's Brock Lesnar. You know, there's Kurt Angle. But the one thing I can say that can still happen and both of us have gone in different paths and been very successful but still have our foot in wrestling would be The Rock. The Rock is somebody that I respect and have always respected because we cut our teeth on one another and really built our characters and our careers together. And I've always thought that I missed that opportunity to go up and really come after that heavyweight belt when he was up there and I thought that's what was going to happen with me. I mean I'm working for the Intercontinental and then he went up and then I thought I would go up after him and there would be, you know, The Rock and Stone Cold and Brad Hart and myself and there would be like this four-way thing that we would just kind of go after each other and it just never happened. It just stopped. And so I've always in the back of my mind would have loved to [have] been able to finish that program with The Rock.
Fox News: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?
Ken Shamrock: I would definitely say the very first Pinker's champion over in Japan. That was the first accomplishment and then I would say probably UFC super-fight, being that guy that beat Dan Seven who just beat all the champions that year and I was the best fighter in the world. And then being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame that put an exclamation point on it. And in pro wrestling, it's got to be king of the ring. I thought that really said that Ken Shamrock had arrived.
Fox News: What was your lowest moment?
Ken Shamrock: Oh boy. I would probably say when I had blown my knee out. At that point on, I was never the same. I could never shoot like I was used to, never could do submissions like I used to. Started losing fights but in my mind, I always felt like it overcomes it. I kept trying to because that's my mentality. I'll never give up. I'll always keep trying to find a way to win.
Fox News: Tell me about Bellator 149 and your failed drug test, you were tested positive for nandrolone, methodone, and you had an elevated T/E ratio, how did that happen?
Ken Shamrock: Yeah it was kind of weird, too, because like I remember going into there and I always had been under doctor's care growth hormone and testosterone for TRT replacement especially as I got into my 40s.
You know I started regressing injuries and stuff like that so I went into a doctor and he started to put me on these different things and it helped me actually regress my age and be able to still keep competing but I had to go off before we go in there and fight you know. So on the offseason, I would do that just for my health. And then when it was, I get a fight to fight I would go off and I'd start training and I'd go in and fight. Well, I didn't realize when I was going into a fight Kimbo that in Texas normally they just don't do drug tests right. And so I thought I'd just stay on my medical that I was already on and then I was going and the fight would be fine. Well, I come to find out they were testing. So I had three weeks prior to that. So I tried to come off and I started doing all the cardio and sweating and doing everything I can to try to get everything out. And I was like I said it was very minimal it's just enough that being on a doctor's care that would help me slow down the radical development and getting old. And it just didn't work out that way. So yeah it was a shame too. Like you said every time I walk into a ring and I fight I'm not on. And I don't ever want to be on because it really does hurt. But like I said it was one of those things where you know I didn't have an understanding of what they were going to do. And I think I was 51 at the time. So it wasn't like I was jumping on something and trying to be a bodybuilder. You know I just wasn't doing that. I was a fighter. So it did happen.
Fox News: Valor Bare Knuckle holds its inaugural event on September 21st, you’re bringing back pit fighting, bare-knuckle style, how did this event come about?
Ken Shamrock: Well the event itself is at The Forebears Casino on September 21st, which is you know not too far away. And it is our very first one in, you know. The reason why I'm doing it is I remember in 1993 when we first did bare-knuckle, and I went in there and nobody knew what to expect and then of course that first fight with Gerard Gordeau and Tuli comes in there and throws a right and kicks him, literally the adrenaline in my body went through the roof. And then I remember when I went in and fought with no gloves on bare-knuckle and the feeling of that purity, roughness, and toughness, it was no excuses and no equipment to make you better it was God-given talent, and I feel in love with that.
Fox News: What do you want the world to remember about Ken Shamrock?
Ken Shamrock: That I gave my all. You know, when I walked in there I put on a fight no matter how old I was. Didn't matter what the opponent was I came in to fight and then I'd always threw out my career wanted to make sure that the fans appreciated me I wanted to make sure they liked what I was doing and if they didn't, find a way for them to do that. It was important to me. I don't know why, but it was. I want people to know that I cared.
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