Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Shamrock’s newest book is that he is still here today to tell the absolutely wild stories of his tumultuous life and career. Astounding stories that start in the depths of Ken Shamrock’s troubled youth and climb with him to the top of the MMA mountain. To say Shamrock’s life and this book is like a rollercoaster would be a disservice to both. Like a rollercoaster, he has lived his life at 100mph and has suffered from constant ups and downs.
But a rollercoaster doesn’t take you from strip clubs to being the inaugural UFC Superfight Champion. Street fights becoming the first King of Pancrase. Being a drug user and dealer to WWF Intercontinental Champion. Hosting orgies to becoming a UFC Hall of Famer. If that rollercoaster existed then not many would survive to the end of the ride, but Shamrock did. This is an unapologetic and open look at the man who helped birth MMA as we know it today.
The World’s Most Dangerous Man is not told from the viewpoint of Shamrock, this is not an autobiography. Instead, it is told from a third-person perspective, written by Snowden, and is interspersed with dialogue from relevant characters throughout. With the majority of input naturally coming from Ken Shamrock, who details how he felt at any given time, there is also a wealth of involvement from those surrounding him. From his wife and kids to students in the Lion’s Den, trainers across the world and opponents in the octagon. The dialogue from characters throughout Shamrock’s life ensures the book is more than simple facts about Shamrock, it helps offer a deeper insight into his tenured career.
Author Jonathan Snowden has meticulously researched the entirety of this book, ensuring accuracy is always maintained and, where possible, events are corroborated. More than a hundred interviews were conducted by Snowden and his use of historical sources such as podcasts and other books/biographies help to provide an unbiased look at Shamrock. An unbiased look is necessary for this venture given that Shamrock is frequently portrayed in an unflattering light. But neither Snowden nor Shamrock shies away from exploring those darker times that have been pivotal to Shamrock’s life.
In a world of fighters who are hesitant to show any weakness and between the hazy glasses of nostalgia it can often be difficult to ascertain where the truth lies. This is where Snowden’s substantial hard work is crucial as it often offers views from both sides of the fence. Whether that be events that transpired in the octagon, the wrestling ring or in a strip club, the book offers enough information that the reader can come to their own conclusions on how an event may have played out and is never forced to accept Shamrock’s own narrative as the only truth.
More than just the titled Shamrock, this book gives a concise yet detailed look into the promotions he helped establish, most notably Pancrase and UFC. It’s essential that Snowden dedicates time to the evolution of the companies Shamrock was working with, as they are key to understanding the enormity and importance of Shamrock’s story. Whilst there are alternative options to learn more about the beginnings of MMA or UFC, Snowden covers them here in enough detail to inform the reader without forgoing the subject matter of Shamrock, a tight rope which Snowden walks seamlessly.
The largest portions of this book are dedicated to Shamrock’s time in MMA. The biggest fights of Shamrock’s career are afforded more time than others, most notably the 20+ year rivalry with Royce Gracie. Other notable inclusions are Dan Severn, Tito Ortiz, Don Frye and Kimbo Slice. This is expected, given he only spent a little over 2 years with the WWF, but there is still a healthy amount dedicated to his wrestling career as it is a big part of who Ken Shamrock is. This includes his time before UFC’s creation in 1993, when Shamrock spent time in Japan wrestling for UWF and PWFG, alongside Minoru Suzuki. Occasionally more telling than his time spent in the squared circle, alongside the likes of The Rock during the golden Attitude Era, is the time spent on the road, a glimpse into a bygone era. Whilst the incomparable travel schedule for a wrestler is still as unenviable as ever, the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll has certainly toned down in comparison to what Shamrock experienced in the late 1990s.
Upon finishing The World’s Most Dangerous Man it is hard to imagine that this is not an honest account of Shamrock’s life and that anything has been held back. Countless times he is the villain of his own book. But he is a villain created through the hardships of life, caught up in the whirlwind of fluctuating fame and fortune within the early days of a volatile sport. The only thing that worked when everything else seemed broken for him was fighting. He was and still is, compulsively dedicated to not only being a fighter but being the best fighter. He carved a stone wall reputation inside the octagon but his life outside was undeniably complex. A man with intoxicating conviction to be the best that got trapped in the ugly world of drugs. Stories that would seem too extreme for a film are plastered throughout the pages of this book. Opinions can be made about Shamrock’s personal life and decisions but the inescapable truth is that Shamrock personally helped define MMA and UFC.
Fans of MMA will learn more about wrestling. Fans of wrestling will learn more about MMA. Fans of Shamrock will learn more than they thought possible.
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