Frank Shamrock is an MMA legend. He is the UFC’s first middleweight champion and left the organization, at the height of his popularity, undefeated inside of the octagon.
Shamrock has been very busy lately and is preparing for a big 2008 with a fight slated against Cung Le this Saturday and a proposed fight against his his brother Ken Shamrock still on the horizon.
Shamrock was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to sit down with us and discuss a variety of issues including his upcoming match up against Cung Le, his strained relationship with his brother Ken, his triumph over a difficult childhood and much more. In part two of our three part interview with Frank Shamrock, he discusses a variety of topics including his sordid upbringing, his strained relationship with brother Ken Shamrock and his street fighting encounters.
Fightline.com:Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with your brother Ken.
Frank Shamrock: Sure, I met Ken when I was thirteen years old we were in a group home together he’d actually moved on from the group home by the time I’d gotten there and the group home Dad and our adopted Dad, Bob Shamrock adopted him and he was like the poster child of reform and everything. Ken was nine years older so I definitly looked at him as an older brother. He was also my first teacher in fighting and the submission wrestling style. He was my first mentor in Martial Arts.
Fightline.com: Really? How did you come to train with Ken?
Frank Shamrock:Well, in the old days we did the traditional tryouts which was a mixture of old Japanese and sportsman like team tryouts, but it was crazy. It was like 500 squats, push-ups and leg lifts so by the time your done with that your pretty much done. And then you have to spare with someone for twenty minutes. You basically just get the stuff beat out of you. And I don’t know if it was because Ken liked me or didn’t like me but Ken went with me for twenty minutes and totally smashed me. They didn’t even tell me I could tap. I had no knowledge of anything. All you could do is just keep fighting and just don’t give up [laughs]. And after that I was accepted. I cleaned equipment, carried bags and learned the ropes from the bottom up. I was basically a punching bag for a long time.
Fightline.com: When did you feel that you were finally accepted by your brother as a fighter?
Frank Shamrock:For me it was the first time I fought professionally. Our relationship changed and it changed for the better. He definitely showed me more respect and my level of acknowledgment and support from him changed. That’s when I first felt that I was his brother was after I fought.
Fightline.com: How old were you when you started fighting?
Frank Shamrock:For me is was accidental, Ken’s always been a fighter. He’s always been a wrestler, he grew up wrestling; but for me I was 22 years old when I started fighting. I was just kinda bouncing around, in and out of jails and wasn’t doing a whole lot. I was in community college and I wanted to drop out and hang out and I was living with my Dad at the time and he told me I had to wrestle. He saw that I was just hanging out and up to no good so he told me to go down to the gym and try that wrestling thing out that my brother was doing and I never left.
Fightline.com: Up to no good? Can you elaborate?
Frank Shamrock:I was in trouble since I was eleven. When I was eleven I threw rocks at a train and I had shoplifting charges and other things that kids get into but the big one was that I threw rocks at a train which is a felony. I got busted for it and they sent me to juvinile hall. And that was the beginning of my life as far as being a ward of the state…group homes, foster homes, that kind of stuff. When I was eleven I was living with my Mom and my step Dad and my original family, but by the time I was twelve I was a ward of the state. The state was my Mommy. And Ken was the same. Ken was a ward of the state. We both grew up on the wrong side of the law. But that group home experience and meeting Bob Shamrock was a turning point for both of us because he made us both get into sports and he didn’t take no crap from us.
Fightline.com: Do you still stay in contact with your biological family?
Frank Shamrock: Oh yeah, they come to all my fights. I have an older brother besides Ken and older half brother and an older sister and a younger sister. There all married and having kids so we’ve got a pretty good sized family…my original family. And I have the Shamrock family as well.
Fightline.com: What a story. It’s amazing how well you’ve done considering all that you’ve been through.
Frank Shamrock: That’s what’s so unique about Ken and I, what most people see are these fighters and we’ve been able to be successful with that but where we came from and what we did…the whole story behind us getting there adds just a whole other level. And most people don’t know the story.
Fightline.com: Tell us a little more about the early days at the Shamrock household.
Frank Shamrock: Well, I’d been to three homes by the time I meet Bob at the Shamrock Boys Ranch. They had a twenty-kid home and it was up in the country…it was like a medium security home. Each one has levels and every time you screwed up you sort of worked your way up to another level. This place was for rougher boys and rougher kids so we both lived there, but Ken was always fighting I was just a little kid. He was always getting into fights. He’s just more of a fighter kind of guy.
Fightline.com: How did Bob react to that?
Frank Shamrock: Bob always let us fight. He used to encourage us, you know. If you had a beef then you go into the living room and everyone would stand in a circle and you’d box each other until somebody cried uncle, gave up, got tired, or got a bloody nose. He was old school about that. But at that time I was never much of a fighter. Ken was the fighter. I liked to read and I was more artistic. I didn’t have much for sports or fighting at the time.
Fightline.com: So what changed? What made fighting interesting to you?
Frank Shamrock: When I got into it, I took more of a scholastic approach to fighting. I looked at it as a schooling process and during that process I learned that what we were doing was an art form; and our art is to do the most damage with the least amount of effort while sustaining the least amount of damage to yourself. That’s the baseline of the art. And your body is the canvas. You should be able to make your body do anything. I don’t get mad or angry about it. I wouldn’t want to get into a street fight. This is what I do and I really enjoy it as an art.
Fightline.com: Can you talk a little bit about your personal relationship with Ken?
Frank Shamrock: We don’t really have one, we never have. I’ve never had a heart to heart conversation with the guy. He was never available and I was never a good communicator. We were too guys that never got past working out together. It’s totally bizarre. I know more about the guys I train with today than I’ve ever known about Ken. I think when we were younger Ken was a very closed off dude and I wasn’t a good communicator. Now, that’s changed for me and Ken’s changed as well but we never grew together. I’ve had more serious conversations with Ken about our upcoming event than about anything else. I think this is the event that will bring the family together and I don’t know why but we’re just a weird family. Isn’t that bizarre. But that’s how I meet all of my friends at the school and that’s how I got respect from people and even to this day that’s how I get respect from people. We throw down and then we get respect from each other.
Fightline.com: That’s interesting. So, have you and Ken fought before?
Frank Shamrock: I was never competitive against Ken. Ken would just crush me, always. He was bigger than me and he had way more knowledge than I ever did at that time.
Fightline.com: Do you feel that you can beat Ken now?
Frank Shamrock: I think so, I think I can beat anybody now. My knowledge of fighting and my skill is better than it’s ever been in my entire life. I look at this as a chance to show that. Ken’s still a formidable guy and he won’t give up so I’m gonna have to put an ass whipping on him. Ken’s son will definitely be on the card as well. We’ll have the whole family on it [laughs].
Fightline.com: Ken came out in a few interviews and voiced his discontent about your relationship with your adopted Dad, Bob Shamrock. Can you elaborate on where your relationship went wrong with Bob.
Frank Shamrock:Bob and him were very close, very intertwined and when I felt that it was time for me to leave and it was my time to go…they didn’t think I was a fighter. They thought I was too nice. They wanted me to run the gym and just be a supporter kind of guy. But I felt I had the skill and ability to make it. But whether they wanted to protect me or jealousy or whatever, they didn’t want me to go and be my own man. But it came time for me to leave and they didn’t take that well. First Bob was really upset and then Ken got really upset and they kind of traded back and forth and they had a very close relationship. When I left there they made it very clear that if I went that I couldn’t come back and that I wasn’t part of the family anymore and that was it. I took my blue pair of boxing gloves and I left. I was twenty-four. I was at that borderline position where I was ready to be serious about the sport.
Fightline.com: Have you every had to use your MMA skills in a street fight?
Frank Shamrock:I’ve been in three street fights. Two as a pro. I got into a fight with Tank Abott’s crew one night and I beat up there big guy. They wouldn’t leave me alone. We were in Alabama and after one of the UFC events and we all went out partying, I’m sure it was at a club or something. It was about four in the morning and we came back to the hotel and the big guy from Tank’s crew got out and picked a fight with me, started chasing me around our taxi and wouldn’t leave me alone so I beat him down and knocked him out and then they were all nice to me. But he came up to me the next morning and apologized and we were cool after that.
The other one was at a fight with a guy outside of a hardware store in Los Angeles. The guy cut in front of me in line and I asked him politely not to and he told me basically where to go so I asked him one more time, he told me where to go so I followed him out to the parking lot and told him I can’t believe you did that…whatever…whatever, and he told me where to go once more so I kicked him in the stomach, kneed him in the face and gave him the right hand of death. And then he got up and pulled a knife on me…and I ran [laughs]. But I felt pretty justified about it when it was all over.
Fightline.com: Who are some of the best young fighters in the UFC today in your opinion?
Frank Shamrock: I haven’t seen too many, but I like what Georges St. Pierre’s doing from an athletic and technique stand point. BJ Penn’s finally got his head screwed back on. A lot of these talent guys just want to hang out and have a good time but they forget about the hard training.
Fightline.com: You’ve received a lot of commendation for creating special programs to help out your community. Can you talk about what your doing down at the gym in this regard?
Frank Shamrock: We call it the Shamrock Way. It’s our apprentice program and anyone can apply for it and anyone can get accepted really. So if you can’t pay dues, you don’t have money or whatever your thing is. If you have a desire we have a program for you. And you start at the bottom like I did carrying bags, cleaning mats and learning the basics of respect and honor and work your way up. We provide a lifestyle and a way to have a future.
Click here to read part 1 of this interview.
Also, please be sure to check back with us on Thursday for part 3 of Fightline.com’s exclusive interview with Frank Shamrock.