Ken Shamrock


Published Feb 2015

In this interview for Radio Northumberland, author and patron of anti knife charity Choose Live Not Knives Stuart Armstrong speaks to the legendary fighter Ken Shamrock. This was an audio interview the address of which can be found further down the page but I have taken the liberty of typing up the audio track for those people that like a bit of a read. While I'm on the subject of reading Stu is an accomplished author with his series of Diaries of a Doorman books his children's books or even his delve into poetry. Take a look at stories from Stuarts days as a doorman and treat yourself to one from Amazon. This series of books is not an effort to betray himself as a hard man or big I am they are a light heart'd peek in to the trials and tribulations of door work and stories such as the time he was left talking an octave higher and with tears in his eyes compliments of a more mature lady out on a hen night. Not a good look for a doorman. 

poster ken shamrock
Stu Armstrong: Hi Ken.
SA: As a man who has fought at competitive level for over 20 years now how do you think that's taken a toll on your body and mind?
Ken Shamrock: It's like anything in life.The longer you live the older you get the more issues and different thing you have to deal with. I have been fortunate and blessed that as time has gone on that I have trained, worked out and I have eaten properly that I am able to do things now at my age that a twenty year old would be able to do so a lot of that was just the way I lived and kept myself healthy.
SA: With the added experience obviously.
KS: Yes the experience is huge so I don't have to earn that anymore I don't have to learn it anymore, it's really good to already have that in place.
SA: It's huge news all over the world at the moment about your up and coming debut bare knuckle fight here in the UK in April against the king of the the travellers and Bare Knuckle legend James Quinn can you tell us how this came about?
KS: It was supposed to be against a guy called Decca Heggie. I took a look at it and a lot of people were interested and watching it although it is not at a professional level yet. I thought maybe we can take it and bring it on like what happened with no holds barred and the U.F.C. and get it towards being professional. So I looked at it and looked at my my opponent and found he did not have a lot of experience, and not saying he isn't a tough lad but he will get tougher as he gets better, and gets more experience. But this was not the kind of fight I was looking for too bring the sport forward so I walked away from it. They called me back later and offered James Quinn. So I looked him up and found he's undefeated, has good a reputation and there is history behind him and then with my history I thought well this can work. Everyone seems to want to watch Bare Knuckle it is all over the social media sites so lets take it from where it is now to where it is a sport that people recognise as an event. So we put the thing together and that's how we got to where we are today with me and him fighting.
SA: I think what your saying is it is the perfect time to do this. I'm a big bare knuckle fan and have been to B-BAD events and although B.K.B. has come a long way it still has a long way too go. It's great that a big well known name like yourself has got involved to help bring Bare Knuckle to the fore front.
KM: I have said it when I first started fighting and they bought gloves in, I have always said this and I have always believed this that Bare Knuckle is the purest form and nobody has an advantage. There's are no politics involved when you put a glove on we just go out there and get it done. When you put gloves on you take away certain types of submission, you take away people who just want to throw bombs and not be very accurate. There is just so much to putting a glove on somebody, you takes away the ability of a tough guy or a guy who is very accurate at punching, it takes away their advantage by adding a glove.
SA: I totally agree. You are most famous for your M.M.A. fights but how have you prepare differently in your training to fight Bare Knuckle fight than than you would for a M.M.A. one?
KS: I am going back to my roots the way that I originally started started training. Over in Japan we never had gloves. We used Bare Knuckle to the body and open hand to the head so we trained all the time without the gloves.When U.F.C. first come out it was Bare Knuckle. You could punch to the head and kick plus everything on the ground. We used to train in the gym Bare Knuckle, so I trained for seven years Bare Knuckle in the gym so I have just got to go back too my roots and do what I have done my whole life..
SA: Do you think you will be able to resist the natural urge, and I am sure you will, to throw kicks, go for submissions and wrestle and grapple when your in this event?
KS: I have four months to train for this and when you are in training for a fight you train to react to certain things that are happening in a fight.So as this is going to be a stand up bare knuckle boxing event I will be training to react to a Boxing, Bare Knuckle fight. I don't see how this will become a problem.
Ken Shamrock
SA: Once this fight is over, which ever way it goes, do you think we will see more of you in Bare Knuckle Boxing or was it this one particular fight that grabbed your attention?
KS: Well this is one fight to grab my attention and I am not looking past that. I want to focus on this, I don't just want to go in there and just compete I want to go in there and dominate and do what I do.
SA: I am sure you are aware that Bare knuckle Boxing has still to come to the fore front. It can sometimes have a bit of a stigma attached to it. What do you think B.K.B. has to do to be taken more seriously and becomes more of a main stream sport?
KS: I think we are doing it now. I think we need to give people recognised fighters to fight one another and then for people to watch it. You know they are watching two guys with boxing gloves on, going round hitting each other with pillows, rather than two guys who get in there and have to be a little more accurate and watch where punches go.There is not so much dancing around and when you do hit someone it does make a difference rather than having to hit them with a hundred punches in order for it to affect them. You only have to hit them with two or three punches in order for it to affect them.
SM: As I mentioned I am quite a big Bare Knuckle fan and when I talk about it that is how I see it compared to Gloved Boxing. There are a lot less punches thrown but with a lot more accuracy and they do as a lot more damage.
KS: It's like this. There is a lot more damage being done by bare knuckle to the tissue, there is more blood, broken noses but when you talk about putting boxing gloves on the damage is done to the brain. Brain trauma. That's over a period of time even if you don't see it in that fight. It is one of those secret killers. If you fight twenty times and at the end of your career you hang up your gloves you can't remember the name of your mother or your wife or even your kids name. So I ask people would you rather have a few cuts or a broken nose or would you rather have brain trauma?
SA: I can see your point there obviously it is a worry to some people. I was wondering how does it feels to see two of your sons fighting competitively and was it difficult to change your famous fighting style to train with your sons?
KS: I realize the danger in fighting I have been doing it all my life. I have seen things unfold and watched the competitors fight and the reality of someone getting seriously hurt is very rare. I see my kids in more of a danger playing football or in some of the other contact sports. It seems to me that there is a higher risk of getting injured in those than doing this as you can't continue to keep punching somebody in the head like that unless you are accurate.
SA: Have you any opinions regarding the lawsuit against the U.F.C. saying the fighters are paid too little?
KS: I have already made my opinion known. I was the first one 15 years ago to bring it up and talk about it and I got hammered for it for so long. No one stood by me and gave me support and now all of a sudden it has come up again and people are asking my opinion. But I have already taken that route and I am not prepared to take it again. Now it's time for someone else to pick up the torch and do it themselves.
SA: Have you got an opinion about the current controversy surrounding John Jones and his alleged use of cocaine?
KS: You know people hear that stuff and start going 'oh my gosh, oh my gosh how bad that is'. I think to myself, are you kidding me? Really? Have we got our heads buried so far in the sand that we do not realise that this is going on. Really? I mean really? Come on there is steroids, there is drugs, there is alcohol, there is sex, there is all kinds of stuff happening and we all know it. But when it happens we all go 'oh man' lets all see it and make a big deal about it. Leave the guy alone, let him get his recovery, let the guy get too where he needs to be. Let him fix his life. Lets not make a big thing about it, let's not make it something it is not because we all know these things happen. People do these things. So don't go pointing the finger or you will have ten pointing back at you.
SA: How do you feel about the way the current shift in M.M.A. is moving away from a fighting sport and more towards a technical and point scoring sport?
KS: That's why I loved the opportunity to be able to do bare knuckle and get back to the old school roots where people wanted to see guys stand up and fight and shout and yell 'get up and fight like a man'. Well that's what I am doing. Getting up and fighting like a man. The sport has gotten so critical, because there is a lot of money you can loosing by not winning a fight. The next fight may be a big money fight so you are not going to take any chances that may cause you too loose that big money fight. It went that way in boxing for a long time where boxing World Champions would not fight each other because no one wanted too loose money, including management. That's what is happening now in this big business of Mixed Martial Arts where everyone is afraid to loose money and no one wants to go out on a limb and take a chance. So when this came up, bare knuckle boxing, I said this should be fun, we should be able to give the fans what they want to see which is for two guys to go out there and finish one another. It is something that is pure and raw and has very little politics surrounding it which is just like it was when it was no holds barred in the U.F.C. Well here we come. You want to see us stand up and fight like a man? Well you got it.

SA: I think you will enjoy the atmosphere and the fans over here in this country. The main hard core of fans travel around the country and that is what they think that it is the purest form.
KS: It is the purest form. That was how it was when we first started out, no one knew what submissions were. So everybody was screaming at you too stand up and fight. Even when you won by a submission people didn't understand it and would boo. Now everybody is brain washed and think that is what they want to see. If you go to the ground and hold someone in a side control and don't do anything because you want to win the fight they still boo and shout 'Stand em up, Stand em up.' Well we are cutting through all that red tape
and now all we are just going to stand up.
Shamrock Quinn

SA: Who would you consider to be the toughest fighter you have ever shared a ring with?
KS That's an unfair question because I have fought my whole career since my second fight where I have been main event or semi main event in every one of my fights. My whole career. So I have fought many different types of tough guy so to put a finger on which one is toughest there are several different ways of guys being tough. You got toughness, you got skill, you got cardio strength, you got guys who are just strong. I mean there are just different types of tough guys.
SA: If you had to choose one opponent who was probably your hardest fight in any discipline. Who would it be?
KS: I would probably have to say Masakatsu Funaki he was my original instructor when I started over in Japan and because he was the one who helped me learn my skills and get skills that I lacked. When I was competing against him it was really tough because he seemed to know my every move. I had to change it up and retrain myself when I fought him and I fought him three times and I beat him two out of those three times so it was a testament to him the way that he was able to get me too that level of perfection.The biggest compliment you could pay your instructor, is when you get better than them. When their ceiling is your floor. I am sure he was very happy for me that I was able to achieve that goal.

SA: I suppose that would be very difficult as it would be like fighting yourself. Because he taught you all your moves he would be able to anticipate what you would do.

KS: It was hard. The first time I fought him I lost. It seemed like he just knew every move I was going to make. He just knew. So I realized early on that before I fight him again I would have to go to three different type of training camp. So I set it up so that he wouldn't realize what I was doing and I was able to do that. He trained me very well.

SA: I guess he was very proud

KS: Yes

SA: Which W.W.E. stars do you think would make good Bare Knuckle Boxers?

KS: There are a lot of great athletes there that could probably adapt to that atmosphere.

SA: Do you ever see yourself making a conscious decision to stop fighting or will you have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the ring to get you away from professional fighting? 

KS: You know I just have  to go and do what I feel I want to do, the love of it and I think I have a pretty good idea of my physical ability and when I think enough's enough. So I don't think I am really going to go and do stupid things like go on and fight a twenty four year old undefeated contender because I want to get in the ring and fight I am going to fight people that are a good contender for me but not way out of my league.

SA: You have achieved some amazing things in your career and with no doubt you are one of the most well known fighters in the world and a lot of things are written about you both positive and negative on social networks. Some posts have been quiet negative say you will be a no show and will not fight James Quinn. What would you say about that?

KS: Well that is totally ridiculous. You are talking about a guy who has been World Champion in two different countries and I have been successful at everything I have reached out to accomplish. I have fought everybody they could possibly put in front of me. I have fought skilled fighters to tough fighters to strong fighters. I have never backed out from anybody and now I have an average fighter and I am afraid of him? I'm ducking him? I'm thinking to myself where are his credentials what has he achieved? And I wonder why is it that I am the one who is ducking him? And I tell people that 'It's a business' and if they don't hold up to their end of the bargain you don't just go on do it anyways.

SA: So what's next for Ken Shamrock after the Quinn fight?

KS: I am not sure I have not really thought about it at the moment. I am excited to be involved with the training. I am exciting about being involved with the fight, a bare knuckle fight which, in my opinion, is something I believe will grow. People will watch it and love it and they will want more of it. And I believe this is just the beginning and they will want more and it will get very popular very fast. I am happy to be involved and part of something which I believe will be one of the biggest events in the world.
SA: I agree with you there and when more people realise what a Bare Knuckle event is really like it will become massive and this fight between yourself and James can only be good for the sport.
KS: I am looking forward to this fight and I am glad it is with James Quinn. I know he is a tough guy and I know he is undefeated and he wants to win. He is a professional fighter and he brings his professional ability and I am looking forward to a great fight and I believe that this is the fight, and I have had a lot of them that helped to start different companies, that this will be the fight to launch Bare Knuckle.
SA: I make you right there. Finally how about talking after the fight. Maybe a little while after and see what you think then? 
KS: Yeah absolutely I would love to be able to talk after the fight. I am not taking this fight lightly this guy does not go undefeated without a few people going after him to challenge him. There is always someone who thinks they are better. I give him credit I know what it is like when there is always somebody trying to throw you off when you are the best. I know he is undefeated and has got skill and I know what he is capable of and I know that he can take a punch. So I realise that this will be a great opportunity for him and myself to be able to entertain the fans all over the world and give them the chance to see something they have never seen before.
SA: Well thank you for that Ken I know you are very busy and I look forward to seeing you there. 

Thank you and respect to the people who's photographs I may have used. To Ken Shamrock and to 
Stu Armstrong for allowing me too use this interview

Ken Shamrock can be found at

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