January 14th, 2010 – Bob Shamrock, the father of legendary MMA fighters Ken Shamrock and younger brother Frank Shamrock passed away today Thursday, Jan 14th at 2pm at the home of his eldest son Ken – surrounded by friends and family. Ken Shamrock and his wife Tonya brought Bob to their home on Saturday after a long term battle with different health complications due to Diabetes – Bob was 68 years old.
Bob is best known for opening up his home in Susanville, CA to literally hundreds of defiant and hardcore kids. Ken Shamrock (then Ken Wayne Nance) was 13 years old when he arrived at the Shamrock Boys Home in Susanville, CA – Ken at the time was in trouble with the law for strong armed robbery among other things.
“I just watched Ken’s eyes when he first arrived, because this was my home. It wasn’t some business place where I came on from 8 til 5 – it was my home, and the house was really big, we ate well, we had a swimming pool, and all those kinds of things. It was a lot different than the other group homes he had been in.” Bob Shamrock
Bob promoted sports in the community – “We’d have the football team and their cheerleaders out at the ranch when the season was over, and the same with the wrestling, baseball and basketball teams. We tried to get them all interested in outside activities, and the biggest one was sports. That’s what we did with Ken because he came to me as a fighter. We got him involved in football and wrestling and if the kids made the team for their class, we’d get them a gym membership in town. We did lots of activities to try and keep the kids busy and to provide outlets. That’s the problem with a lot of kids these days: They don’t have the outlets to get their energy out and their aggression down.” Bob Shamrock
One of Ken’s fondest memories of growing up at the Shamrock Home was the way his dad had the kids settle their disputes. If the kids got mad with each other, Bob would let them put on gloves and box in the backyard to sort things out. The only rule imposed for these matches was that Bob had to be there at the time.
“Ken winded up being the house champion in boxing and wrestling. He had a way about him that just drew me to him: his own way of looking at things that was upright and honest. It wasn’t always kosher or exactly right, but that’s the way he thought and basically it was fair. Sometimes you had to show him there was another side to the story, but he always tried to do the right thing. By no means was he perfect, but we’d sit down and I could reason with him.”
When Ken turned 18 in February, 1982, Bob legally adopted him and Ken changed his last name to Shamrock. Later, Ken’s younger brother Frank also changed his surname to Shamrock out of respect for the man who had done so much to help him.
“It is an incredible feeling, knowing that two boys I have done so much for, have gone on to be world champions in Mixed Martial Arts.” Bob Shamrock
Just yesterday I sat across from Ken and listened as he began to look back and think about his dad, “My dad had an unbelievable light with these kids – I’ve never seen anybody able to take a defiant kid into their home, and handle them like my father could – willing to get into a fight with them if he had to because of disrespect and then turn around and hug them and let them know, the minute you give me respect – I’ll give you respect. Everyone that came in contact with my dad – you could tell he made a difference in their life. I’ve never seen anyone have that much success with kids. I’ll miss him and I’m forever thankful.
Editor’s Note: Here’s a cool website with a good profile on Bob Shamrock and some old photos of him with his boys.