An Evening With Ken Shamrock: Stories in and out of the ring

An Evening With Ken Shamrock: Stories in and out of the ring

Sat · July 28, 2018

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:00 pm (event ends at 11:00 pm)

$35.00 - $40.00

This event is all ages

Ken Shamrock
The first time Ken ran away from home, he was only ten. He found refuge in an abandoned car with fellow delinquents, but wound up in the hospital after getting stabbed by another child who was also on the run. In the years that followed, he would be ousted from seven group homes and serve time in Juvenile Hall. Although the strong-willed youth only weighed 125 pounds, he had his own way of looking at the world, and he was always ready to protect his pride with his fists.

"Showing no signs of rehabilitation, the State grew weary of him. He was given one last chance to turn his life around: he would go to a group home - the Shamrock Ranch - run by Bob Shamrock, a man renowned for working with misguided youths. While Ken had a history of conflict with those in charge of group homes, he fit in quite well at Shamrock’s.

"Bob had raised more than six hundred boys in his home, and his methods were both unique and effective. In response to the feuds that often arose with prideful boys sleeping under the same roof, he offered them an unorthodox method of resolution. If both parties were willing, he allowed them to throw on boxing gloves and duke it out in the backyard.

"It did not take long before Ken was the house champion in both boxing and wrestling. Outside of these in-house matches, he also earned a reputation around town as ”One Punch Shamrock.” ”He’d get into a fight and just knock the guy out,” recalled Bob. ”He hit them once and they were down. He never picked fights, but he never backed away from them.”

"Recognizing the boy had tremendous athletic ability, Bob redirected Ken’s anger into sports. He got him on a weight-lifting program and enrolled him in wrestling and football. Over the years, Bob and Ken went through a lot together. At one point, the State had sent Ken back to his mother, who was now living in Napa, California. But having found a home at the Shamrock Ranch, Ken returned on his own accord. Bob and Dee Dee accepted the boy back with open arms, even though Ken was no longer being supported by the State. Along with becoming a leader for the other boys, Ken also became the son Bob Shamrock never had. Shortly after Ken turned eighteen, Bob legally adopted him.

"At nineteen, Ken Shamrock entered his first Toughman competition in Redding, California. He only weighed in at 195 pounds, but due to a shortage of fighters, he was bumped up to the heavyweight division. Although the first competitor he faced outweighed him by sixty pounds, it didn’t stop Ken from knocking him out with a devastating body shot. The second brawler he took on weighed 245 pounds. Ken proceeded to knock him out as well, along with several of the man’s teeth. The competitor who was supposed to fight Ken in the finals wanted no part of ”One Punch Shamrock,” and claimed an injury so he wouldn’t wind up like the others.

"It was evident that Ken had a natural ability for brawling, and this ability was exercised both in and outside of the ring. His reputation as a fighting machine grew as he worked as a bouncer in various nightclubs. But eventually Ken realized working the nightclub scene was a dead end. ”I was just kind of floating around,” said Ken, ”bouncing in bars here and there.” He began searching for other opportunities, and one day his father suggested that he go into professional wrestling. Bob was a huge fan, but at first Ken was not interested, thinking it stupid and fake. However, after Ken realized just how much money a pro wrestler could make, he started taking to the idea.

"Bob organized a tryout with Buzz Sawyer Wrestling Academy in Sacramento, and Ken passed with flying colors. He enrolled in the classes, and because of his wrestling background and natural athletic ability he quickly excelled. Realizing his son had potential in the sport, Bob located a more prestigious wrestling school on the other side of the country. “I went down to Nelson Royal and Gene Anderson in Mooresville, North Carolina,” said Ken. ”I went through their tryout, and they saw some potential in me.” Ken completed their program in four months, while it usually took a student two years to finish. Both Ken and Bob made the move to North Carolina, where Ken exploded onto the scene.

"The wrestling wasn’t paying that much, however, and to make ends meet, Ken held odd jobs and even engaged in back alley scraps for money. In one such event, Shamrock fought in a parking lot behind a bar surrounded by a ring of drunks. Ken ended the fight with just one punch and a suplex. Without even breaking a sweat, he walked away with $350 in his pocket. But this was not enough to satisfy his pugilistic tendencies, and he began searching for another outlet.

"An opportunity soon presented itself. ”Dean Malenko had come up and did some tag-team with me, and then we did some baby-face matches against each other,” said Ken. ”He showed me this tape that they were doing over in Japan, the UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation). I said, ”Damn, I want to do that!? He introduced me to Sammy Saranaka from Florida, and I went down and met with him. I went through a series of tests.” After passing a brutal tryout in Florida, Ken was on a plane heading for Japan.

"He made it through yet another grueling set of tryouts in the dojo of the UWF just outside of Tokyo, but not without being humbled by submission masters Suzuki and Funaki. ”I’ve always been able to pretty much handle myself in any situation,” said Ken. ”But when I went to Japan the technique there was so much better that I was getting heal-hooked, arm barred, and choked. I was like, ’Oh , this stuff is great.’”

"Realizing his one ”great punch” would not cut it at this level of competition, he lived in Japan, studying under the greats and learning countless ways to submit an opponent. Having found what he had been searching for, he quickly acquired the tools that made him a complete and feared competitor.

"Ken spent a year competing in the UWF, and although most of the matches were worked, it was a cut above what he had experienced while wrestling in the States. But when the UWF began having problems, Ken began looking for an even more realistic medium where he could test his skills and unleash his power in full-out combat. “There were a lot of internal problems with the UWF,” said Ken. “The company broke down and split up, and the fighters went to three different companies. There was Takada, there was Maeda, and there was Fujiwara. Of course I slid off into Fujiwara, because Fujiwara and Sammy Saranaka were friends and Sammy was the one who got me into it. Then after that, it kind of broke apart with Funaki and Suzuki and all them. I had started training with Funaki, and spent a lot of time with Funaki learning. And so when they broke off, Funaki had asked me to go with him because they were going to start a new group called Pancrase. It was going to be a little more intense. I said, ‘Well okay, that sounds more like me.’” Ken went on to beat both Suzuki and Funaki, his teachers. And on December 19, 1994, he defeated Japanese competitor Manabu Yamada in front of 11,500 enthusiastic fans to be crowned the first King of Pancrase.

"Ken became a superstar in Japan. His image was depicted in comic books and graced the cover of magazines, and tens of thousands of spectators turned out monthly to watch him dominate his opponents.
Venue Information:
The Park Theatre
698 Osborne Street
Winnipeg, MB, R3L 2B9