Shamrock: The World’s Most Dangerous Man by Jonathan Snowden

May 19, 2020


While Ken Shamrock’s life has already been covered via Inside The Lion’s Den, that book was hampered not just by only covering his early MMA career, but also by being a far from complete and rounded account of his life. To say Snowden’s work is a different prospect would be a spectacular understatement.

The biggest strength of this book is that it is utterly comprehensive. Not only does it cover every fight of his career, but virtually every notable pro wrestling match and angle are addressed.

This helps get across the true hybrid nature of Shamrock’s career, starting out in pro wrestling, moving into Pancrase which straddled the two genres, making his name in UFC, returning to the ring for his WWF run, and then two decades as an MMA legend whose name exceeded his performance in the ring.

Unlike some MMA and “legitimate sports” media coverage of pro wrestling, the book is particularly clear about the physical toll of multiple matches per week and the on-the-road lifestyle on Shamrock’s body. Before WWF he had 22 wins and five defeats, three of which Shamrock says were worked matches in Pancrase and another a controversial split decision. After leaving WWF he won just five matches and lost 17.

The book has a particularly effective approach: although an authorized biography, it’s clearly no puff job. Snowden notes that although he had the benefit of being able to interview Shamrock at length, he was also at liberty to interview any other source on or off the record, with no limits on the subjects he covered and no requirement to shape the account to meet Shamrock’s preferences.

The result is most certainly a rounded portrayal of Shamrock’s life that doesn’t gloss over his shortcomings, not least his experiences with all manner of pharmaceutical and recreational drugs that suggest a 2020 publication sees him benefit from the statute of limitations. The book also serves as a valuable warning of the importance of keeping up to date with tax liabilities.

Some reviews of the book have put it at the very top tier of wrestling-related biographies, though for me it’s a step below the likes of Crazy Like A Fox and Eighth Wonder of The World which brought an extra level of insight into Brian Pillman’s personality and the reality of Andre Rousimoff’s life respectively. That’s no criticism however, and this is still an excellent title that anyone who’s followed Shamrock’s career should put at the top of their to-buy list.

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