Going Ringside Ep. 8: The ‘World’s Most Dangerous Man’ is back

Ken Shamrock answers questions on dream fight with Brock Lesnar, Endeavour-WWE merger and his new Valor BK promotion

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was May of 2021 during the heart of the pandemic when Jacksonville, Florida was fresh off making national headlines in the fighting world. An estimated 15,000 fans had piled into VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena for UFC 261.

This was when Jacksonville was really in the forefront of all cities in the country for reopening sports.

And with that came opportunity. Because roughly a mile from that packed arena sat City Hall when a little-known meeting locally happened with a very big name.

Valor BK

UFC and pro-wrestling legend Ken Shamrock posted this image to Twitter. In the image is Shamrock, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and the co-owner of the Jacksonville Sharks Nick Furris. The description in the tweet read “Business meeting with Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville, FL about Valor Bare Knuckle! Good things are coming!”

But there was no real clarification on what the meeting was about beyond that. Now, two years later it’s starting to make sense. The fighting legend is re-entering the professional fighting game with a new venture called Valor BK. BK stands for “Bare Knuckle,” meaning fighters won’t wear gloves. In addition, there won’t be any ropes for the ring and no cages. Fans will be quite close to the action. But he’s not entering as a fighter.

Shamrock is entering as a promoter.

“I felt like when I had the chance and obviously when I got older and started to retire I got a chance to go back to the bare knuckle,” he said telling us that the meeting with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry in 2021 was critical. “First of all, with anything you’ve got to get it sanctioned. So going in front of him and seeing what those things are. And right away he understood it. Immediately we said this is where we want to do our next show.”

“We needed a place to fight and obviously WWE and UFC came here and they had great support. Obviously, me being a part of the history of both of those gave it great success,” he added.

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Shamrock said he has been in Jacksonville over the past few weeks at both the Police Athletic League and Fraternal Order of Police doing the leg work for the first big event which will take place later this year in Jacksonville. They’re not ready to announce the date or time but say it will be in the fourth quarter of 2023 and an official announcement will come later this year.

How he became the ‘Most Dangerous Man’ in the world

Shamrock was born not too far north of Jacksonville in Warner Robbins, Georgia. He’ll be quick to tell you fighting was simply part of his life from very early on.

“My whole life I’ve been fighting on the street. Trying to survive,” said Shamrock. “Then I got an opportunity to go to Japan and learn to fight in a cage with rules. Regulations.”

And from there the fighting legend was off. Shamrock really started to gain global prominence in the fight world in an organization called Pancrase Hybrid Wrestling in the mid-90′s. The idea behind that organization was it operated with similar rules to pro wrestling but there wasn’t a predetermined outcome. Then it was off to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Shamrock was there as the organization was starting with their UFC 1 event. To give you some perspective, Jacksonville hosted UFC 261 in 2021 and UFC 273 in 2022.

He went on to fight other legends like Royce Gracie and Dan Severn. That time in the mid-90′s led Shamrock to becoming one of the pioneers of UFC who turned it into the global sensation it became.

Eventually ABC News gave him the moniker “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” during a segment on “The World’s Most Dangerous Things.”

“Anytime you get a nickname or a handle like that you can’t name yourself otherwise it doesn’t count,” said Shamrock on getting that moniker. He said there was a lot of general societal misunderstanding on fighters at this point that they were similar to something you would see in prisons in the movies.

“I didn’t see it as a good thing,” he said. “Because during that time when no holds barred, not mixed martial arts, but no holds barred. People didn’t look at us in a good light. They thought we were like these barbarian killers.

“I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I got a family here. Don’t label me that,’” Shamrock added.

But he says he became more accepting of the descriptor when producers of the show explained to him that they would portray him as more human.

The transition to wrestling wasn’t easy

Shamrock shocked the fighting world in 1997 when he famously left the real fighting world for the world of professional wrestling and joined the World Wrestling Federation. Shamrock was immediately given top billing for his legitimate fighting background. But he says the transition didn’t go over well with the Ultimate Fighting world.

“It was a struggle,” he said. “Making that decision at that time there was a struggle within the UFC where they were going at that time.”

But it wasn’t just a job transition. People in the fighting world were unhappy with his decision.

“I was being hammered by a lot of these UFC fans and a lot of the media from the combat sports media,” he said.

But as time went by and WWF soared to unprecedented popularity in the late-90′s during the “Attitude Era” that uneasiness from the fight community quickly evaporated. As Shamrock found himself in feuds with the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock, his profile continued to soar with the general public.

Which wrestlers were legitimate tough guys

During the podcast we asked Shamrock his perspective on the toughness of some of the top wrestlers who were his contemporaries. Here are a few of his answers:

  • Steve Austin — “Very good at martial arts standup. And another bad***.”
  • Kane — “Big. Strong. Not a lot of agility but he’s a big, strong guy and scary.”
  • Undertaker — “Intelligent. And longevity. The guy just kept going like an Energizer rabbit.”
  • Ron Simmons — “Not only is he tough but he’s big. And he’s strong. So he was a legitimate bad***.” (He added Simmons would have done well in MMA)
  • Owen Hart — “Wasn’t a tough guy in the sense you were afraid of him but he’s one of those guys that could wrestle. He had a skill set where you didn’t mess with him.”

When we discussed his feud with Owen Hart, Shamrock discussed being trained in the famous “Lion’s Den” which was the Hart family basement in Calgary where numerous other wrestlers had been trained. “The guy had great wrestling ability and just his heart really. Determination for him to be great was second to none,” said Shamrock.

Owen Hart tragically and famously passed away during an accident in a match live on pay-per-view in 1999 when a harness he was descending to the ring on gave way and Hart fell to his death. It was one of the biggest controversies in the history of the industry.

His perspective on The Rock

While we were asking Shamrock about the toughness of other wrestlers, we asked about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The two feuded in 1998 in several matches as Johnson was starting to gain prominence in the eyes of the country.

In one match — if you look around the internet you’ll find it — Johnson hit an unprotected Shamrock in the skull with a steel chair in a fashion that likely would never be allowed today with the current concerns over concussions.

But when we asked Shamrock about Johnson his answers didn’t focus on general toughness, instead it turned toward what a performer they discovered Johnson was during the time they were in the WWF together.

“Excitement! Show stopper! Big time, showtime!” said Shamrock. “He had the gift to gab. He pick up a mic and that star would shine.”

Shamrock was injured more in pro wrestling than in ‘real’ fighting

While we were talking we asked Shamrock about his wrestling gimmick where he would simply “snap” and appear to go crazy. Then start beating up anyone in his path. Shamrock told us that wasn’t necessarily a gimmick, it was frankly close to reality. But having that happen in wrestling was much different than in MMA or UFC. He said that unlike real fighting, WWF was long-form scripted matches and getting injured could happen easier there.

“I was hurt more in wrestling than I ever was in MMA,” he said. “I was good in MMA. I could beat guys in a minute, two minutes, five minutes and not get injured. Guys want to strike. I’d take them down, smother them and beat them. In wrestling you’ve got to go in and do a program. You have to take so many things five days a week for probably six weeks.”

That dream fight with Brock Lesnar

We couldn’t let Shamrock escape this episode without asking him about a dream fight with the other WWE wrestler who also became world famous in the Octagon of UFC. That would be Brock Lesnar.

“Come on! Really? That’s a no-brainer. It’s me. No question,” said Shamrock. “I mean, I know what he’s going to say. He’s gotta’ be that way. He’s a world champion. He’s going to be confident. But I’m telling you and I’ve got proof of this. Proof is in the pudding. He can’t stop leg locks.”

Thoughts on the Endeavour-WWE merger

There are very few people on the planet with the perspective that Ken Shamrock has on the two worlds of professional wrestling and UFC. Coincidentally, just weeks before our interview with Shamrock the news came out that WWE and Endeavor are merging. As of now there are a lot of questions on what the hybrid company will look like with Vince McMahon retaining a reported 49% of the company’s stock while Endeavor and their CEO Ari Emanuel will retain 51%.

“To see it actually unfold right in front of you years later. It’s just crazy it didn’t happen even sooner,” said Shamrock, who didn’t believe the two organizations will be structurally separated once the merger is in effect.

“Once the merger happens there’s no such thing as one company,” he said. “They may brand them that way. But when you’ve got two organizations owned by one company, you know what’s going to happen.”

And we’ll close this article on Ken Shamrock with this: a message to Brock Lesnar. If you would like to come on the podcast and respond … my email is at the bottom of this article.

About the Author:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.