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MMA HALL OF FAME Nominee » Bob Shamrock


Bob Shamrock • Pe 1993 • Instrumental in getting son Ken Shamrock into MMA, in 1992.

Bob Shamrock was an influential and important figure in the community in the 1990s and early 2000s, when the sport was known as NHB. His management and promotional skills helped anchor one of the greatest fight teams in the history of the sport, the Lion's Den, and his influence in the lives of legendary fighters such as Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock and Jens Pulver helped propel them into legacies as some of MMA's greatest fighters.

Beginning in 1968, Bob Shamrock ran the Shamrock Boys home, where he took in troubled boys between the ages of 13-16, in an effort to turn their lives around. Shamrock took in over 900 delinquents over a 30-year period, teaching the boys the importance of hard work, getting good grades, obeying the law and channeling their emotions into something good. He saved the lives of countless teenagers, navigating them away from a life of crime and helping to civilize their lives.

It was through the Shamrock Boys home that Bob met Ken Kilpatrick, now known as Ken Shamrock, a troubled youth who was constantly getting into fights and was often in trouble with the law. Bob taught Ken how to channel his anger into sports, and Ken began to excel in wrestling and American football. Similar to what Cus D'Amato did with a teenage Mike Tyson, Bob Shamrock gave Ken navigation and helped guide Ken into a career in fighting. Ken became one of the most feared and most accomplished fighters of the decade, winning championship titles in two different countries, the UFC in America and Pancrase in Japan, and becoming one of the most important figures in the history of the sport with his influence inside and outside the ring. Ken's star power helped guide the UFC through difficult financial times, and helped take mixed martial arts from the brink of extinction and grow it into a mainstream sport.

It was also through the Shamrock Boys home that Bob met another future MMA superstar, Frank Juarez, who is now known as Frank Shamrock. Frank was another troubled youth who was just getting out of a juvenile facility at age 12 after being taken in for driving a stolen van under age. Frank fell in love with Bob's fatherly guidance, affection, and protectiveness, and like Bob did with Ken, legally adopted Frank as his son. Bob encouraged Frank to join Ken's fighting team, the Lion's Den, and guided Frank to pursue a career in fighting in order to turn his life around. Through the Lion's Den, Frank developed a strong love for martial arts and eventually molded himself into one of the greatest champions in the sport's history, going 5-0 in UFC title fights and becoming recognized as the pound for pound best fighter in the sport in the late 1990s. Frank is also widely credited as being the prototype for the modern mixed martial artist, combining high level grappling with high level striking to go along with outstanding cardiovascular conditioning and smart game-planning.

Bob had an important role inside the Lion's Den fight camp, which emerged as the most dominant fight camp in America in the 1990s and to this day remains one of the greatest fight teams in MMA history. Bob was an intelligent manager and skillful promoter and handled much of the management and business side of fighting at the Lion's Den. After Bob's group home closed in the late 1990s, he founded the MMA fight team "Shamrock 2000" in order to continue to make a difference in the lives of young men.

Through the gym "Shamrock 2000", he met Jens Pulver, who had reached out to Bob in order to find high-level training for his career in fighting. Pulver said of Bob, "I looked up to him. I got started in what I wanted to do in life because of him. So much of what I want to be, helping out kids with my own gym, is from what I learned from him.” Pulver, who hated his last name because it was the same as his father’s, asked Bob at one point if he could take the Shamrock name since Bob was the first real father figure he ever had. “(Bob) told me, ‘You go out there and make the Pulver name mean something good." Pulver went on to become the first Lightweight Champion in UFC history, defending his title twice (including a win over MMA legend BJ Penn) before vacating the title. In addition to Jens Pulver, a very young Nick and Nate Diaz also briefly trained at the Shamrock 2000 gym.

Bob's impact on the sport of MMA largely goes unnoticed, but had he not intervened in the lives of Ken and Frank Shamrock, the landscape of MMA could be radically different today. Jake Rossen of Sherdog.com wrote, "Sports are full of peripheral characters that operate outside the frame of a camera. Some get their proper acknowledgment, and some do not. To wonder about what mixed martial arts would be like today had Bob Shamrock not opened his home to troubled young men plays with quantum theory: what if this, what if that. We only know that Ken speculated he’d be incarcerated or dead if not for Bob’s intervention, that the earliest incarnation of the UFC was a sea of ill-equipped fighters with hearts bigger than their sense and that Shamrock represented actual athleticism. In possessing legitimate skills and a poster boy’s body, he helped nudge it closer to respectability."

Bob died Jan. 14, 2010 at age 68, succumbing to complications from diabetes. He is not the first father that will be sorely missed, though perhaps the only one to be mourned by 600 sons. His contributions to this sport were largely unheralded. But like all great supporting roles, the story would not be nearly the same without him.

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