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CBN.com “I had a broken neck, broken hand, broken wrist, and broken foot.”
Ultimate Fighting. This is where the best of the best in martial arts go toe-to-toe in a brutal match to take out their opponent literally. Few have done it longer than Ken Shamrock has. He’s been a professional fighter since ‘91, quickly becoming the UFC’s first Super Fight champion and the first “King of Pancrase” champion in Japan. The UFC Hall of Famer even made his way to the WWE. But his fighting didn’t start in the ring.
“I’m 42 years old. I’ve been blessed,” Ken Shamrock tells The 700 Club. “When I’m fighting, it’s not only going to be for the fans. It’s going to be for God.”
The fight that Ken is talking about is his third match against his rival Tito Ortiz. The two first met in 2002 and again in 2006 after being opposing coaches on the Ultimate Fighter 3 TV show. This time something’s different.
“I’ve never really gone out and told people, ‘I’m a Christian. I believe in God, and that is the reason why I’m successful. That is the reason why I’m still here doing what I’m doing.”
Ken became a Christian at 10 years old.
“After several different marriages and failures, my mom started turning to the Lord,” Ken says. “So she brought us to church. We got involved with the youth programs, and I got on fire a couple months in like, ‘Wow, this feels good.’ At 10 years old, you don’t know. It felt good. I remembered that I wanted to take that jump, and I accepted the Lord, got baptized and the whole nine yards. I believe to this day that’s the reason I’m still here.”
His mother married again. An angry Ken didn’t like the change and ran away from home.
Ken says, “When I ran away, I had to have a means of survival, so I would steal from stores -- you know, all the healthy stuff like candy and chips (laugh). I would take a knife, go to school, stick people up, and they’d give me their lunch money. I was pretty hardcore at 10.”
It didn’t take long for Ken to end up in a group home. But even there, he found it hard to fit in. Seven group homes later, 13-year-old Ken was sent to a home run by Bob Shamrock, who would later adopt him.
Bob Shamrock recalls, “Ken was like the baby, but he wasn’t the baby. He was the man. After a short while [he] kind of took over the leadership of the house because he was ready to fight at the drop of a hat. But the other side of the coin was he had a certain amount of character that a lot of these kids did not have. He had his own [idea] of what was right, what was wrong, and when you’d stop to think where he was coming from, it made sense.”
Bob soon recognized that Ken had natural athletic abilities. He thought sports would help him channel his anger so he directed him to football and wrestling. That path led him straight to Ultimate Fighting. There, he found a new set of challenges.
“As I got into fighting, I got into drugs and alcohol,” Ken says. “I got into that life that the devil pushes in front of you. He hands it to you on a silver platter.”
For years Ken dominated the sport. He was a feared opponent, quickly rising to the top. But his wild lifestyle cost him everything -- even his first wife.
“I got caught up in all the fame and money. I lost my first wife, and that right there was my fault,” Ken confesses. “There were a lot of things that happened, and I wasn’t living right. But I got brought to my knees. I lost my house. I lost my car. I lost the money. I lost everything... The World Champion Fighter, everybody knows me, and I’ve got a mattress in an apartment on the floor. People don’t know that. I basically have nothing left, and my soul was gone. Everything was gone. I was ready to quit, give up. I’m done. Put me in the ground.”
That is until Ken ran into Tonya – a childhood friend, whom he’d later marry.
“Me and Tonya got together, and she had gone through a bad divorce. I had gone through a bad divorce, and hers was more recent,” Ken explains. “We were nurturing each other and really bringing each other back to life. We knew that God was in our lives but it wasn’t really out there.”
But that was about to change because their teenage daughter Sara had joined a church.
“So we start going to church and getting involved with her because we’re trying to make this change with her but who was the change really for? It was for us.”
Ken and Tonya rededicated their lives to the Lord. Now Ken is about to retire and will continue to train fighters in his own dojo, The Lion’s Den, in Susanville, CA.
Ken says, “I think that the most important thing is the person that you see sitting here. People get this thing on TV, and they don’t know exactly how people get to where they’re at. The road that I’ve traveled has been very rocky. I was in group homes. I was involved with drugs. I was involved with alcohol. I was involved with being split up in a marriage gone bad. There’s a lot of thing that I went through, and I think the most that I would want people to know is that you gotta have faith. You’ve got to get saved by God.
“Jesus is my life, my Savior. You’ve got to be saved by God no matter what you do in life. If you try and go the wrong direction, He will guide you back."
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