UFC Hall of Famer and the first Impact Wrestling champion ever (back when it was the NWA World Title) “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock steps into the Epicenter for the first time since 2004 this week to discuss his new venture of which he is the President of – VALOR Bare Knuckle Fighting.
During our conversation, we discuss why now is the right time for bare knuckle’s return to combat sports, how he got involved, why gloves became the norm in UFC/MMA, and, of course,w e talk a little wrestling as well discussing his return to the ring in recent months, his legendary feud with The Rock, and fond memories of the late great Owen Hart.
VALOR debuts on pay per view live from North Dakota on September 21 and will be available on DirecTV, Dish Network, InDemand cable pay-per-view, and streaming via the FITE app.
On bringing back bare knuckle boxing in 2019:
“I fell in love with bare knuckle back in the beginning days of no holds barred, when it first came out with the fighting and the no holds barred. I just fell in love with it. Then this guy, Tank Abbott, came out and started knocking people out with these gloves. Then, the promotion decided, “Well, hey! What a great idea! It will be safer!” They didn’t put gloves on the guys because it was safer. They put gloves on because they wanted to bring back the guy who was winning! So he wasn’t breaking his hand and he could come back and fight again in 2, 3 months. So, I thought, “OK” until I started fighting with gloves on. (laughs) Then, I realized, it is not safer! (laughs) It is like, now I can just pummel someone in the head and I don’t have to worry about hurting my hand. That sucked because when I was getting hit in the head by someone and they were wearing a glove, I was like, “Man, that hurt but it didn’t hurt them” as opposed to when I got hit in the head by a bare knuckle where it hurt and I knew it hurt them too! It kind of boosted your ego, “DO THAT AGAIN! Sooner or later, you’re going to break that hand and I’m going to pummel you!” So, on goes the gloves. And, it just goes and it goes on to be this multi-billion dollar industry. I always told myself that if I ever got back into fighting or putting on shows, I wanted to bring back bare knuckle because I wanted to bring back the purity – The natural purity of pure fighting and it isn’t with equipment, it is with God given talent!”
On if bare knuckle is more dangerous:
“It is not more dangerous. In fact, it is more safe. I’ve fought in both so I should know. So, I always said if I ever got the chance, I would bring it (bare knuckle) back. All of a sudden, you start seeing these videos with millions of views on social media of two guys throwing down on the street. Then, you see these promotions start popping up and they start getting more attention than the actual UFC, MMA world. So, I said, “OK! Now’s the time!” So, me and my business partner Des Woodruff launched VALOR BK but not just to launch VALOR BK but to put bare knuckle where it is justly due, on a professional level, in the combat sport arena.”
On the availability of the debut PPV for VALOR on September 21:
“We talk about how this will be available whether it is live or weather it is internationally or here domestically – We have DirecTV, we have Dish Network, we have all the major cable providers. And, we have FITE TV as our digital. So, we are not a fly by night company. We are here for the long haul and the long run. I want to bring bare knuckle, VALOR Bare Knuckle, back to where it belongs in that respected column of combat sports.”
On announcing the crowd can decide the fight card for the tournament:
“Yeah, with Forbes the other day. That was a big one! We want the crowd to be engaged and informed with what bare knuckle is. So, we put it up on VALOR BK and Forbes so they, the fans, can actually vote on the first round match-ups in that tournament.”
On who will be in VALOR BK’s tournament:
“We’ve got Mark Godbeer who is a beast in bare knuckle. We’ve got Mighty Mo who is a veteran in UFC. We’ve got Romero Sokaju who is also a veteran in the MMA world. And, we’ve got Jack May who is also a veteran. So, this card! )laughs) This is a heavyweight card! It is a beast of a tournament. It is a one night tournament and whoever wins this tournament will be our champion.”
On any wrestlers he’d like to see try VALOR Bare Knuckle:
“There’s a lot of guys that have the ability to do that. Bare knuckle is a different beast. Anyone has the ability to come in and do well because they’re tough. But, it is at such the early stages… Even though it is as old as dirt, it is still new here… It is coming back! So, everyone is starting at the same level. Nobody has years and years of experience in bare knuckle! It is interesting because it is starting out in its infancy and we get to watch it grow!”
On if he still loves wrestling in professional wrestling:
“I do. I made my commitment. I told people that I was coming back and I’m not coming back for a short time. I’m coming back for the Heavyweight belt. Whether it is the NWA Heavyweight belt, the Impact Heavyweight belt, or the WWF Heavyweight belt. I told them I was coming back and I haven’t backed off from that. I’m making a run at it. I’ve gone to BCW and won Tag Team gold there and had an opportunity at the World Title. I’ve had opportunities in Germany, I’ve had opportunities in South Africa. And, back here in the States, there is trembling about some things that I might do here. So, the statement I made about being back in pro wrestling is something that I am interested in chasing for quite some time until I can’t do it anymore. But, I’m going to be doing that right alongside putting on great shows with VALOR Bare Knuckle.”
On memories of Owen Hart:
“Yeah! I can tell you this. He put my head through the ceiling in the Dungeon match! (laughs) I didn’t know… That was a shocker! He thought it would be funny. I didn’t know my head was going to just go right through it. I thought I was done! I thought I had broke my neck! Thank goodness we didn’t hit a beam! (big laugh)”
On if he’s surprised by the unbelievable success of The Rock after WWE:
“I’m not. I mean, I am in the sense of how he took off and the opportunities he got. I knew he was talented and he was going to do some incredible things in pro wrestling. But, what I didn’t know is that he would be such a dramatic performer and character in the acting world. It is awesome to see because he is a good person and he deserves it.”
On why he has been snubbed by WWE especially in terms of the Hall of Fame:
“You know, there is a lot of speculation and I have my own thoughts too. But, all they are are thoughts and speculation because no one has come out and made a statement… They’ve been asked! But, nobody’s done that. I’d like to think that someday, I’ll get in. Hopefully sooner than alter. I think I did enough. If you look at being a Hall of Famer, it is about changing the way people have to do things when you’re in that ring. You look at it now, you know, nobody ever tapped out. It was a verbal “I Give Up!” There were a handful of submission holds. Now, it is in every single match people are doing different kinds of submissions with ankles, arms, and chokes and different things. In my time there, I changed the landscape of professional wrestling. To me, I should be the first one… If they are going to induct someone that is a cross-over from MMA to pro wrestling, I should be the first one that goes in.”