Pro Wrestling
Pro Wrestling

Kenneth Wayne Shamrock (born Kenneth Wayne Kilpatrick; February 11, 1964) is an American mixed martial artist, UFC Hall of Famer and professional wrestler. Shamrock emerged as one of the biggest stars in the history of mixed martial arts, headlining over 15 main events and co-main events in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Pride Fighting Championships during the course of his career and set numerous pay-per-view records with his drawing power. Shamrock is widely considered to be a legendary figure and icon in the sport of mixed martial arts. Shamrock was named The World's Most Dangerous Man by ABC News in a special entitled "The World's Most Dangerous Things" in the early part of his UFC career, a moniker which has become synonymous as his nickname.

Shamrock became known early on in the UFC for his rivalry with Royce Gracie. After fighting to a draw with Gracie in the inaugural Superfight, he became the first UFC Superfight Champion after defeating Dan Severn at UFC 6; the title was eventually renamed the UFC Heavyweight Championship when weight categories were introduced to the UFC. He was also the first foreign MMA Champion in Japan, winning the title of King of Pancrase. During his reign as the UFC Superfight Champion, he was widely considered the #1 mixed martial artist in the world. Shamrock was also ranked by Inside MMA as one of the top 10 greatest mixed martial arts fighters of all time.

Shamrock is the founder of the Lion's Den mixed martial arts training camp. The Lion's Den became one of the most successful camps in mixed martial arts history and was famous dominating the early scene of mixed martial arts. He is also the older adopted brother of former UFC Middleweight Champion Frank Shamrock.

Along with his mixed martial arts career, Shamrock enjoyed considerable success in professional wrestling, achieving championship success during his tenures with the World Wrestling Federation and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Among other accolades, he is a one-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, one-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, one-time WWF Tag Team Champion, and the 1998 WWF King of the Ring. World Wrestling Entertainment—formerly the World Wrestling Federation—has credited Shamrock for popularizing the ankle lock (later used by fellow professional wrestling world champions Kurt Angle and Jack Swagger), which was named by the organization as one of the top five submission holds in history.

Early life[]

Shamrock experienced hardships as a child. A "military brat," Kenneth Wayne Kilpatrick was born at the Robins Air Force Base, in Warner Robins, Georgia, where he would then live for the first four years of his life. His father, Richard Kilpatrick, was a United States Air Force enlistee and his mother was Diane Kilpatrick, who worked as a waitress and a dancer, had her first son when she was only 15 years old. Shamrock had three brothers and came from a broken family in a predominantly African-American neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. He was often left to fend for himself, getting into many fights without the supervision or guidance of his parents. Shamrock's father abandoned his family and when Shamrock was five years old, his mother, divorced from Richard Kilpatrick, remarried an Army aviator named Bob Nance. The newly formed family moved to Napa, California, Nance's hometown. The Shamrock boys were outsiders in this community, coming from a poor background and speaking in a Southern accent, they continued to cause trouble and get into fights but also began experimenting with drugs. Nance, who'd fought in the Vietnam War, became a member of the local fire department and also found work in roofing and upholstery. Nance was a driven and determined man, but like his wife Diane, he knew very little on how to raise children well, often using corporal punishment as a way to try and discipline the kids. Shamrock became involved and excelled in sports at a young age, playing in Little League baseball and Pop Warner football. Nance remembers a veteran coach telling him that he had never seen a player with as much heart and tenacity as the young Shamrock. Shamrock was not as involved with drugs as his brothers, such as his brother Richie, who enjoyed smoking marijuana, but who also played football.

At age 10, Shamrock was stabbed several times during a robbery and then placed in a juvenile hall. Shamrock, at the age of 13, was then kicked out of his home by his stepfather, and each of the brothers went their separate ways. Shamrock lived in cars as a result before being placed in a foster home. He bounced around between several group homes before being placed in Bob Shamrock's Boys' Home at age 14, in Susanville, California where he turned his life around. Bob Shamrock legally adopted Ken as his son, and Ken changed his last name from Kilpatrick to Shamrock in Bob's honor.

At Lassen High School, Shamrock (known there as Kenny Nance) excelled in both football and wrestling. As a senior, Shamrock qualified for the state championships in wrestling, but broke his neck in practice days before the competition and underwent neck surgery. Shamrock did not receive scholarship offers from big league colleges, and doctors told him his sports career was likely over. Against doctors orders, Shamrock joined the Shasta College football team, where he was voted team captain in his final season. The San Diego Chargers of the National Football League later offered Shamrock a tryout, but Shamrock declined in order to pursue a career in professional wrestling, where he debuted in 1989 in the South Atlantic Pro Wrestling promotion. Shamrock's professional wrestling career eventually brought him to Japan, where he met professional wrestlers and future Pancrase co-founders, Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki, which set the stage for his mixed martial arts career to begin.

Professional wrestling career[]

Early career[]

In 1988, Shamrock trained as a professional wrestler under Bob Sawyer, Buzz Sawyer and Nelson Royal. He debuted in 1990 in Royal's North Carolina-based Atlantic Coast Wrestling promotion under the ring name Wayne Shamrock. After ACW folded, he moved on to the George Scott/Paul Jones-run company South Atlantic Pro Wrestling (which initially promoted under the banner of the North American Wrestling Association), and changed his ring name to Vince Torelli. He eventually turned heel, adopting the nickname "Mr. Wrestling." In 1990, Shamrock traveled to Japan, where he competed in the Universal Wrestling Federation and its successor promotion, Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi.

His first taste of mixed martial arts came following the exodus of his mentors Minoru Suzuki and Masakatsu Funaki from Fujiwara's promotion to found one of the formative Japanese mixed martial arts associations, Pancrase. Later, he returned to America to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Shamrock would split time between the two organizations until 1996, whereupon he returned to professional wrestling, signing a contract with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

World Wrestling Federation (1997–1999)[]

Shamrock made his WWF debut on the February 24, 1997 episode of Monday Night Raw. On March 23, 1997, Shamrock, identified as Ken Shamrock and billed as "The World's Most Dangerous Man" a name given to him by ABC News, refereed a submission match between Bret Hart and Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13.

Shamrock returned to the ring following WrestleMania, squashing Vernon White (one of his Lion's Den students) in his debut WWF match. He went on to feud with Vader, Bret Hart and The Hart Foundation throughout 1997, culminating in a bout between Shamrock and The British Bulldog at SummerSlam 1997 which Shamrock lost after refusing to relinquish a chokehold, following Shamrock going on a rampage after being slapped across the face by The British Bulldog with a handful of dog-food. Shamrock was considered a candidate to win the WWF Championship from the departing Bret Hart, before the Montreal Screwjob occurred. Shamrock went on to challenge Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship at In Your House in December, defeating Michaels by disqualification after Triple H and Chyna interfered in the match.

Throughout early 1998, Shamrock feuded with WWF Intercontinental Champion Rocky Maivia. He lost to Maivia via disqualification at the 1998 Royal Rumble and a victory over Maivia at WrestleMania XIV was reversed after Shamrock continued to apply his ankle lock after Maivia had submitted. In June 1998, Shamrock won the 1998 King of the Ring tournament, defeating Jeff Jarrett in the semi-finals and Maivia in the finals. Following the King of the Ring, Shamrock feuded with Owen Hart, with Hart defeating Shamrock in a "Hart Family Dungeon match" at Fully Loaded and Shamrock defeating Hart in a "Lion's Den match" at SummerSlam. In September, he formed a short-lived stable with Mankind and The Rock.

Shamrock turned heel in October 1998 and won the vacant Intercontinental Championship on October 12, defeating X-Pac in the finals of an eight-man tournament. In November, Shamrock consolidated his heel status by joining Mr. McMahon's Corporation. On December 14, Shamrock and fellow Corporation member The Big Boss Man defeated the New Age Outlaws for the WWF Tag Team Championship, making Shamrock a dual champion. The duo held the titles until January 25, 1999, when they lost to Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart.

In January 1999, Shamrock began feuding with Billy Gunn, Goldust and Val Venis, all of whom had made overtures to his sister, Ryan. He lost the Intercontinental Championship to Venis on February 14 when Gunn, the guest referee, delivered a fast count. Shamrock took part in a four way bout for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania XV. The reigning champion Road Dogg, was able to retain his title by pinning Goldust after Shamrock and Venis were counted out while brawling outside the ring.

In mid-1999, the Corporation began feuding with The Undertaker and his Ministry of Darkness, with The Undertaker's minions repeatedly ambushing Shamrock and kidnapping Ryan, sacrificing her on the Undertaker's symbol. After breaking away from the Corporation, thus turning face once more, Shamrock went on to feud with The Undertaker at Backlash and lost. In May, Shamrock, The Big Show, Mankind and Test formed The Union, a stable of wrestlers in opposition to the Corporate Ministry. The Union dissolved soon after defeating the Corporate Ministry at Over the Edge in May.

Shamrock briefly feuded with Jeff Jarrett before beginning a rivalry with martial artist Steve Blackman that saw he and Blackman fight one another in a series of unorthodox matches. The feud ended at SummerSlam 1999, where Shamrock defeated Blackman in a "Lion's Den weapons match". He went on to feud with the newly debuted Chris Jericho until departing the WWF in late 1999 in order to resume his mixed martial arts career. His departure was attributed to an injury inflicted by Jericho's bodyguard, Mr. Hughes.

Ring of Honor (2002)[]

Shamrock returned to professional wrestling in March 2002 after being billed as The World's Most Dangerous Man, refereeing a Ring of Honor match between Bryan Danielson and Low Ki.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2002, 2004)[]

In May 2002, Shamrock signed a one-year deal with the newly formed Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) promotion. On the inaugural TNA pay-per-view on June 19, Shamrock won the vacant NWA World Heavyweight Championship in a Gauntlet for the Gold match, and is recognized as TNA's first ever World Champion. After feuding with Malice for several weeks, Shamrock left TNA shortly after losing the title to Ron Killings on August 7. He briefly returned to TNA in June 2004 as an ally of Jeff Jarrett before leaving the company.

Juggalo Championship Wrestling (2009)[]

Shamrock made an appearance in the independent Wrestling company Juggalo Championship Wrestling, owned by Psychopathic Records, during their flagship annual event, Bloodymania III.

Return to Pro Wrestling (2013)[]

Shamrock made a return to Pro Wrestling in December 2013 at "Amo del Hexagono" in Costa Rica. He made his return by attacking Carlito and challenging him to a match.

In wrestling[]

Championships and accomplishments[]

Mixed martial arts[]

  • Pancrase Hybrid Wrestling
    • King of Pancrase (1994)
    • King of Pancrase Tournament winner
  • Pride Fighting Championships
    • Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals Superfight Winner
  • World Mixed Martial Arts Association
    • WMMAA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • Black Belt Magazine
    • 2000 Full-Contact Fighter of the Year
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards

Professional wrestling[]

  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated
    • Most Improved Wrestler of the Year (1997)
    • PWI ranked him #157 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI Years in 1995
    • PWI ranked him #236 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI Years in 1996
    • PWI ranked him #38 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI Years in 1997
    • PWI ranked him #8 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI Years in 1998
    • PWI ranked him #23 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI Years in 1999
    • PWI ranked him #65 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI Years in 2002

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