Are you ready?
You’re about to embark on a remarkable journey with some of the biggest names in MMA’s history. Fighters like Frank Shamrock, Ken Shamrock, Rorion Gracie and more. As these legendary fighters describe the ups and downs of that journey, the unimaginable conditions they endured, the rewards and the nerves they battled prior to battle, you may laugh, you may cry or you may be absolutely spellbound.
We begin with Frank Shamrock, whose list of accomplishments is seemingly endless. During his time in the UFC, he was widely considered the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. His contribution to the history and development of the sport can't be overstated.
These are brave men, these are inspired men, these are talented men. They are the legends. Welcome to their journey. — Editor
On your Web site, it states you were a “ward of the state of California at age 12, prison inmate by 18.” What were some challenges you faced growing up?
Frank Shamrock: My dad left when I was two or three, and my mom had four kids. We grew up on welfare—just your run-of-the-mill, got-no-money-kind-of people.
My mom started having kids when she was 16 or 17. We were always living in apartments, and I started hanging out on the wrong side of town. I started getting in trouble pretty early, like eight or nine years old. When I was 11, I went to juvenile hall for the first time. I got caught throwing rocks at a train, and I was in for 10 days. In California, it is a felony to throw rocks at a train, which I didn’t know at the time. I was just being a hoodlum, doing silly stuff.
After my stint in juvenile hall, I realized living at home wasn’t all that good. By then my mother had gotten a new boyfriend, and she was pretty abusive, both physically and mentally, so I decided to get out. I figured if I commit more crimes they would take me as a ward of the state. So by age 12, I was.
Where do you think you would be had you not found your way to the Shamrock Boy’s Ranch?
Shamrock: I ended up at the boy’s ranch when I was 13. From 11 to 13 I bounced around from group home to group home. I thought I found the secret to being in control of my own life by breaking the law. Moving year by year, changing my location, changing my home. And then Bob Shamrock came along.
By then I kind of went up a level of security. It was a much more secure group home. He came out, I gave him my spiel and he just laughed at me. He told me he heard all that crap before. He was the first guy who stepped up to be a father figure to me for no other reason than it was the right thing to do. He took me in and set me up to understand and figure out what normalcy was and what a good life was. You know, cause and effect, punishment for real reasons and real accolades for real reasons.
That was the beginning of the good life, which, of course, I screwed up two years later when I got into more trouble. So I moved on to even more security. Bob has always stood by me. He was my first real dad.
What does it mean to you to be so widely considered as the first true mixed martial artist? In 100 years, you will still be considered the first guy to put it all together. Do you think about that type of thing?
Shamrock: Not really, but people keep saying that to me. To me I was just on this journey, and the journey was to become complete. I was just the first guy who got there. For me it was an academic, physical and spiritual test ever since I began studying the arts. It sounds trippy when you start talking about it like that.
CREDIT: Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
NOTE: The full story on Frank is in the July issue.