WATERLOO, Ont. — Many fans know Ken Shamrock for his legendary UFC and WWE career but fewer fans know his early life history of being abandoned by his biological father, being stabbed several times at the age of 10, and living in cars. Despite all the adversity in his early life, Shamrock conquered the UFC and WWE and enjoys sharing his story.
To do so, Shamrock launched a multi-city spoken word tour Saturday night at the Chainsaw in Waterloo, Ontario. The meet and greet started two hours before his talk. Since there were approximately 15 people in attendance everyone got to talk with Shamrock at great length. Sitting nearby, I could hear all the conversations between Shamrock and the fans, and I noted that almost everyone in attendance was a UFC fan and did not ask him about professional wrestling.
When the show began there was approximately 30 people in attendance and Shamrock said, “You don’t need a lot of people to have fun, you just need some people.” People were spread across the bar and we were told to move our tables and chairs closer together so that it looked better for the camera.
Shamrock wanted people to know him beyond his fighting and wrestling career and told the story of his youth when he would fight people on the streets. “We just knew how to survive and that is what we did — survive,” said Shamrock. His stepfather Bob Shamrock took the time to figure out who Ken was and worked with him to keep him out of trouble. Ken described himself as an introvert who kept to himself but would have violent outbursts that led to him getting into fights.
His father enrolled him in amateur wrestling and football. During one of his first football games Ken tried to kill his opponent by brutally tackling him, which Ken thought that everyone would be mad at him and he would get kicked off the team. However, he heard loud cheers from people in the stands, his teammates congratulated him, and his coach praised him. Shamrock was confused: “How is it right to hit someone in football? Life has rules. Those rules, if you stay in them, you can achieve whatever you want as long as you stay in those guidelines,” he said.
Suddenly life made sense to Shamrock. He realized that if he tackled his opponent after the whistle, his teammates and coach would not be happy with him since the referee would have to throw a flag out to give a penalty to his team. “That’s not good. Now you hurt your teammates, you hurt your coaches, you hurt your parents, you hurt your teachers that worked with you to get good grades to be able to play football. So, a lot of people get hurt in the process if you don’t stay within the rules,” said Shamrock.
Before playing football, Shamrock did not understand what was right or wrong. Many people explained the difference between right and wrong but he still did not understand. When Shamrock started playing football, a light switch went off in his head and he was able to understand the difference between right and wrong by understanding the rules of the game.
Shamrock viewed a mixed martial arts tape from Pancrase in Japan and knew he had to learn the rules and take part in a try out at Pancrase.
“I went over to Japan and did a trial in Japan. I was able to vent all my anger and frustration into fighting. Man, my world was perfect because now I found something that was me. My DNA. I was fighting on the streets for free. I was like no more of that man, you pay me when I fight.”
This was the launching point for his fighting and professional wrestling career. Shamrock became world champion in Pancrase, UFC super fight champion, TNA/NWA World champion, WWE Intercontinental champion, and King of the Ring. “You name it, I did it all but I stayed within the rules. I can generate all that anger and frustration and intensity into something positive and I can be somebody” said Shamrock.
During his two years in the WWE, 1997 to 1999, he would snap in the middle of matches and suplex the referee and other WWE officials, which was part of a real intensity that he carried throughout his life. “The only difference is when I was in the WWE is that I took that same intensity that I had inside of me before I went into a fight. That’s what I would feel like. So, I ended up saying just let it out. It’s entertainment. Let it out. So, I remember I was standing on the steps and I went ‘ARRRRR!’ and they said, ‘Do that again.’ They were like, ‘You’ve got to lose it. You’ve got to go crazy.’ So, I started doing it more and pretty soon I started seeing white flashes like I knocked myself out here.”
After Shamrock told his story of his youth and transition into fighting and wrestling, the show went into a long Q and A session. There were the same several people asking multiple rounds of questions. I had a great time since I was able to ask Shamrock many questions during the Q and A period and during the meet and greet he took his time talking with me and everyone else that came to see him.
Spoken Word Tour Dates
June 2: Waterloo, Ontario
June 3: Tillsonburg, Ontario
June 4: Belleville, Ontario
June 5: Ottawa, Ontario
June 6: Montreal, Quebec
June 8: Kingston, Ontario
June 9: St. Catharines, Ontario
June 10: Toronto, Ontario
June 11: TBD