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Jonathan Snowden shares dizzying process and wild stories from his Ken Shamrock biography

Snowden talks about writing Ken Shamrock’s biography

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UFC Fighter Portraits

Ken Shamrock will always be a once in a lifetime, if not once-ever type of person that saw the rise (and near death) of this sport. After reading his biography, which we previously reviewed, there were questions that remained regarding the arduous process of undertaking such a gigantic task.

So we caught up with former Bloody Elbow writer Jonathan Snowden, who was kind enough to have an extensive conversation regarding the lengthy and heavily involved process of this project. Documenting so many bizarre highs and lows made for a simply superb read, and picking the author’s brain to discuss the entire thing was also very compelling.

Victor Rodriguez: I want to really start off with the genesis of the book. You’ve extensively talked about Ken, you know, you’ve seen his career and his rise as a pioneer in this game, and I remember when you actually announced that you were going to be taking on a project like this. And I wasn’t, uh... I guess at the moment I felt like “OK, this is good!” I was curious, I was just wary, or maybe wary isn’t the right term — I was very anxious to see what form it would take. And I think it’s a riveting read, I think it’s a fascinating work. I want to know what prompted the idea for you to finally say “You know what? I’m gonna dig into this and get as much out of Ken as I can”, and bring the project to reality?

Jonathan Snowden: Yeah, so there’s kinda like a long answer to that question, I’m just gonna give it to you and you can just tell me if it’s boring at that point.

VR: (Laughs) Man, take as long as you need, it’s fine.

JS: So it was right before Ken’s fight with Kimbo Slice. I was doing a feature article on him for Bleacher Report. I went to San Diego and he was training, he was living in a mobile home behind the gym and it was a pretty cool opportunity for me to really profile someone. As you may be aware, at Bloody Elbow that wasn’t really the kind of work I did. So this is, this is like my first foray into this different kind of journalism, so I was pretty excited about it. And I guess it must have struck a nerve with Ken on some level, too, because at one point — you know, I was there for several days — and at some point I’m asking him questions about Pancrase or something, and he’s like “I think you know more about my career than I do.“ So that must’ve stuck with him. And I met his new manager there, and stuff like that, but I’m not one of these people that stays in touch. Like, I’m not trying to be friends with fighters. I never talked with Ken again after I did the story until he fought Royce Gracie. And I happened to get assigned to go to Houston to cover the fight for Bleacher Report again.

And so I ran into Ken and his management team again, and that was kind of the first time I kind of had an idea that there’s a lot to Ken that we didn’t know about, because he had two previous books and he’s done a million interviews like the one I had done with him. It seemed like it was pretty well-covered. But he was training with Guy Mezger and Frank Shamrock had come in, you know, because it was Ken’s last fight. They’re bringing the whole gang back together. And they’re telling stories, and I happen to be at dinner with them before the fight. Frank and Guy, they’re telling these stories about Ken that I was unfamiliar with, it was crazy stuff. That’s where it kind of occurred to me that there was a lot of buried treasure here.

But I didn’t really do anything with it. And then his manager called me at one point and said “hey, Ken wants to write a book with you.“ I was kind of interested. Kind of, but not sure. I didn’t want to do some kind of ghostwritten autobiography or anything like that. That’s just not who I am. But what it was is that they wanted to do an exercise book, for like how to get in shape when you’re a man over 45 or something. Something I was totally unsuited for. So I said no as nicely as I could, that no, I don’t want to write an exercise book with you. Then it occurred to me, what I want to do. So I pitched them the idea of doing this biography and I don’t know why they abandoned the exercise book, I don’t know why they said yes to this book, but they almost immediately were like “yeah sure, why not?“ And that was how we started.

VR: And did you expect it to take the scope and the scale that it eventually ended up taking? Because you’ve chronicled everything from his very first memory. I mean that’s, just from the very first page it grabs your attention in ways that are perhaps unexpected. I know a lot of people hear that Ken had a rough life, but you sort of really demonstrated that from the outset. Did you see that going this way from the outset and how did you feel when it was all over as far as how much you were able to dig up?

JS: Yeah, I’m pretty pleased with it. It’s what I wanted to do. So yes and no is the answer to your question. What I told them — and I don’t know if this resonated with them as it does with me, because I don’t think Ken and his inner circle are a bunch of readers — in fact, it’s kind of funny when I was telling them the idea of the biography, it’s not like you just tell me your story and I write it down. I talk to everyone around you and we paint like, this full picture of your life. Who you are. And it’s from your perspective but also other people who are around you, their thoughts and perspectives of you. And that gets into one story.

I’ve told other people this, but I’m pretty sure that Ken Shamrock thinks that I invented the biography, the concept. He tells people about the idea as if I invented it. I guess I get a kick out of that, but also I take credit for inventing the biography...

VR: (Laughs)

JS: Anyone that writes one, going forward, should get with me about licensing, or whatever... So yeah, my idea was since I’d read a lot of MMA books, I’ve even written a couple. In every MMA book is an autobiography. Kind of these ghostwritten books that only share highlights — where you always win and everybody’s happy, you’re pretty all the time — complete garbage. I don’t want to say the names of any of them, I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. There had not been a really good MMA book, I didn’t think, to include mine. My idea was to write an honest-to-god biography. A real book. That’s what I wanted to write a real book. It’s probably not a great book, but it’s the best book that I’ve ever done. And this is his vision, and I think I realized it. Now, I didn’t expect it would take me almost three years, but here we are.

VR: During the course of those three years, how would you describe the process of doing it? Because you went through tremendous lengths to speak to people that frankly — some of these guest appearances seem very, very unexpected to me. Some of the Japanese individuals that you spoke to, I didn’t think for some reason — not that they wouldn’t speak to you, don’t get me wrong. It was just interesting to see such a wide array of people coming around and willing to tell these stories not just about Ken but about their time in the sport, capturing such a vivid picture of what things were like during their respective periods.

JS: Yeah, some of that was timing. My timing was very good throughout this because I happened to hit Ken at a time when he was really reflecting a lot about his life and his past, and he’s had a religious awakening of some sort. He was kind of in the headspace where he was thinking about who he is, who he is and who he wants to be. He was also in between jobs so he wasn’t actively promoting anything. I think he was less concerned with his image and ”what will the UFC think?” or “what will Bellator think?“ or “what will WWE think?“ or whoever it is. There was no one but him, he wasn’t doing anything. So he felt open in a way that he wouldn’t, normally. It was also good timing for the Japanese people you’re talking about, it was the 25th anniversary of Pancrase, which was the organization that he fought for even before the UFC. Pancrase started in 1993. As I was doing the book these guys were doing a lot of media, most of it was i’m sure Japanese language. But they were kind of also in the space for “hey, we’re talking about this stuff.“ So I happened to hit them at the right time. I’m sure a couple of years earlier it might have been very difficult to get them to say anything and to make these connections and stuff. They just happened to be talking about it a lot. I was able to make it happen. And like, when you do these kind of things, these kind of books, you get the one contact and you do your damndest to leverage it in every way you can. Ken had connected me with (Masakatsu) Funaki, who was his mentor and the one Pancrase Japanese fighter that spoke a little bit of English. Once I had Funaki and he was talking, was able to make a few other connections, and so, it kinda went that way. I’m really happy to get that stuff in the book. If I was a businessperson I would have just left out that stuff, because it ended up being fairly expensive to do those interviews, between the phone calls and I got a translator. I probably spent a lot of the first day sales on the translator.

If I started thinking about stuff like that, I don’t even wanna go down that route. Because you think “oh, the book sold some copies, I’m doing OK!” But then you remember when you paid that translator $500 to do the interview... That stuff adds up. So anyways, timing was pretty key, I think, for the project. Once you grab somebody they say “hey you should talk to this person or that person“ , it was just kind of like a wave. And I was just crazy enough to say — I never said no. Like “I don’t want to talk to that person“. I took my shot at everyone that somebody thought might have a good Ken story. A lot of them are in the book, some of them didn’t, all of them kind of like informed my perspective. I don’t regret any of the time I spent, really.

UFC 1: The Beginning Photo by Holly Stein/Getty Images

VR: It certainly helps paint a very cohesive image because the thing about it is — the way these things happen, if you’re playing a game of telephone somehow... maybe that’s not the best way to put it... when you speak to six different people about a particular event, yeah, you’re going to get some variations in terms of the story. But for the greater part, when it comes to a lot of what Ken says, there’s a large amount of agreement with all the parties that are there. He was immensely honest, it seemed incredibly heartfelt, but what I found more surprising was that this was obviously not a hagiography, but that Ken was so open to talk about his failings as a husband, as a fighter, as a father, and how he was learning to come to grips with all of that and trying to find something new. By the time we get to the end, it really is about dealing with life after fighting. Kind of reminded me a bit of The Irishman, it wasn’t about all the stuff they did in the street, that’s building the world. It’s really seeing this man after all that is over trying to do something different and make good. Did you really expect him to be this open and to admit to things that perhaps he may not have been asked to?

JS: You know, it’s funny because we almost stopped... I think it was the second day. I had done some initial interviews and we’d been doing these over the phone. And I called out to Ken and he’s telling me about his Japanese pro-wrestling matches that he had prior to Pancrase and prior to UFC (1) where they’re shoot-style, so they’re realistic wrestling matches. But he’s talking to me about them as if they were fights. Like they were real fights. And so I just stopped him and said “Look, I’m not doing it this way, you know? I’m not writing a book where we pretend your wrestling matches were fights, so if that’s the kind of thing you want to do we should just quit, right? Let’s not even start down this road.” And he agreed, you know? It kind of really changed everything from that point. He just committed, and you’d have to ask him at this point for his own internal monologue. But for me, it was like he committed to that internal monologue, he committed from that point on to just “why not try the real story for once?“ you know? (Laughs) You spend so much time, I think, you know, fighters and athletes and celebrities of all types — and even regular people do this too — where you invent this narrative of your life, who you are, what you’re about and what you’ve done. A lot of times it ends up not being strictly true, the stories you tell yourself about yourself. So fighting through that and once we broke that barrier, it opened a lot. Ken also told me something early on as I was asking about steroids and things you want to really want to know about. He was like “I’m not gonna tell on myself.“ That was kind of our deal. He wasn’t gonna tell me all the dirt on Ken Shamrock but his deal with me was “OK, if you come to me with something that I’ve heard, that someone else has told you, I’ll tell you about it. I’ll tell you if it’s true or not and I’ll tell you if I remember about it.” As much as I know, he was pretty honest about that. That was kind of our arrangement, and would hear something from somebody, you take that little thing you know and tell it to somebody else, like “hey, I heard this...“

And they’re like “oh, you know about that...“ Then the story just kind of snowballed from there, right? Building and building, and he was just confirming them left and right. Part of the reason it took so long was because I had to re-interview Ken a bunch of times. It was like “so now I know about this, what can you tell me about it?“ But his openness was wild. To go back to your actual question, I think I am still kind of shocked at the things that he talked openly about. I’m glad he did. I have no idea why, but I’m happy we were able to tell as true a story as we could.

VR: There were a lot of great anecdotes, there was a lot of great insight that was provided by some of the people that were closest to Ken, and some people that perhaps the reader would be most interested in coming into the story to begin with. There was a lot of stuff from his foster father Bob, foster mother DeeDee, Jerry Bohlander, Guy Metzger, but Frank Shamrock... he was an interesting outlier in some ways. He was he was in and out, in and out. You do mention sort of early that he declined to participate any further in the project. I just want to know if he disclosed why that would be and if you’re at liberty to say why?

JS: You know, I never really understood what was going on with Frank. Frank and I always had a really good relationship, I thought. I’d interviewed him multiple times, I had even worked with him and Mauro Ranallo on some projects. I’ve gotten paychecks that come from Frank Shamrock, he was Mauro’s manager. We had talked about a lot of this stuff so I was able to use some of our previous interviews in the book. It also didn’t set me back that much. I would love to have heard from Frank further, but luckily I had already talked to him a lot.

I don’t really understand what was going on. Obviously Ken and Frank have a very complicated relationship with ebbs and flows depending on the moment and I honestly think I was caught up in a bad moment between the two of them. So I was kind of the victim of that and Frank had the idea, I think, because like how we were talking about how things work, that this was Ken’s book and I was working for Ken. I don’t mean this as a direct quote, but basically his message was “Fuck Ken Shamrock, fuck you, and I’m not doing anything to help Ken Shamrock. He can fuck himself.” That may be a direct quote. It’s close.

What prompted that? I don’t know.

VR: No, it drilled the point home.

Strikeforce: Barnett v Cormier Photo by Esther Lin/Forza LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

JS: Oh yeah, there was no doubt about it. He even sent me some e-mails afterwards about potential lawsuits. It was like, wait... it went from me and him on the phone talking about Bob Shamrock’s ranch to like, him saying “I’m deleting you out of my phone and I don’t want to hear from you again.” You’re the first person that’s ever asked me this, I don’t think I’ve told anyone this story. I haven’t heard from him about the book. I don’t know what he thinks about it. None of this impacted the job I was trying to do and I attempted to make sure that Frank’s perspective and voice showed up in the book. I didn’t want to, because he was angry with Ken, or we had this weird phone call, that’s not gonna impact how I’m trying to tell this story. He was obviously a big part of what was going on for several years in the mid-90’s. I hope I reflected that, both how important he was and his perspective on some of these issues. Even though he didn’t want to do additional interviews, I think his voice is in the book, and his perspective. I think it worked out OK.

VR: Another person that I was curious about, and I should extend this to a particular group, is Royce Gracie. I was wondering if he had been reached out to for any sort of direct participation or anyone perhaps, from the Gracie family.

JS: I had been able to interview Royce Gracie various times in the past. Some of the stuff in this book is the product of me having done this for ten years and I had a little repository of some of these interviews. I had already talked to Royce and Rorion, I’d have to check my notes. I don’t recall getting either of them particularly for this project, but I had talked to Royce about Ken because they had the fight in Bellator. I had talked to Royce extensively about his relationship with Ken and all that stuff. It worked out OK for me. It was handy to not have been someone who just jumped into MMA for this project. That would have been very hard. Luckily, I’m a pack rat so I have all these interviews. Even if I didn’t use 15 minutes of conversation about Ken Shamrock in a 500 word story, I still have it. I was able to use a lot of that material. I guess you could say that Royce and Rorion and those guys had participation, they just didn’t know it was for this book. Since the book didn’t exist in 2015 or whatever.

VR: When you get to the portion of Ken’s career after his feud with Tito Ortiz, he leaves the UFC, he gets back into testing the waters elsewhere and trying to become part-owner of certain MMA ventures, he’s trying to find any fight that he can take and conceivably win. It seemed strange to me that he obviously kept getting booked no matter what but you do mention that the UFC was much more focused on his wins and losses than on his actual drawing power and his charisma. That ability to be a marketable star, they didn’t really need to focus so much on wins and losses. And I really do feel that it’s strange now you have more — I don’t want to say glamor fights — but there are fights that you know have no divisional consequences that you could still put him in and have something of a show. For example, the fights that he ended up having in Bellator against Royce and Kimbo. I don’t doubt that you could have had something similar happen in the UFC that would have done great business. It would have kept him happy, obviously. Do you think it was more of a money thing, or do you think it was some sort of personal dispute? Maybe they didn’t like the way that he did business?

JS: I do think it’s all those things, but I do think there’s an institutional hesitance for the UFC to make those fights. They definitely now more than ever are willing to make business-related fights. They’re still the company that doesn’t want Chuck Liddell to fight, they wouldn’t host the Chuck/Tito 3 fight. They’ve given an opportunity for Bellator and others to make fights with these legends because whatever the UFC is, they definitely don’t appear to be in the old-timers business. That hasn’t previously been their pattern. And you have to remember, too, I did talk to some UFC executives from that time and I used to talk to Joe Silva regularly. He would have been really against Ken’s further participation in the UFC.

UFC 40: Ortiz vs. Shamrock Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

In that era, it’s easy to think about it now because they’ve had this success, this kind of mainstream success, but back then they were still kind of on the cusp of it when Ken as fighting Tito and they had just started on the The Ultimate Fighter, I think it was Ultimate Fighter 3. UFC was a new thing, so I think there was this real fear of being associated with this circus kind of act, pro-wrestling and all those kind of things, the UFC was real sensitive about that. I think that worked against Ken. In some ways his pro-wrestling connection helped grow that audience they wanted but also had this connotation they didn’t like. There’s really a lot going on between the UFC and Ken. I think it came across a little bit in the book, but there is kind of, it is hard to work with Ken. Probably harder than with some other fighters because he does as his lawyer told me, “there’s a fight before the fight“ every time. How many plane tickets does Ken get? How many hotel rooms does he get? Is it first class or is it business class? They’re fighting directly with Dana White about these kinds of issues. There’s a pain-in-the-ass quotient when it comes to dealing with Ken. It still exists, frankly. I’m sure that didn’t help, either. So all that adds up to be a whole lot in the negative column and a lot less in the positive column.

VR: Interesting. What were the things that stood out to you the most in terms of the most impactful things that you perhaps might not have known or might not have known in as much detail.

JS: I was surprised by the debauchery of it. You kind of get the sense of like, famous athletes, they have some opportunities with women and partying that a normal person maybe doesn’t have. But you also expect stuff like, if you hear about a fighter from the streets — which is what Ken is — has a history of selling drugs or whatever, you’d think that’s as a younger guy before he made it big. I didn’t think that Ken was selling drugs as he was on WWF (now WWE) television as a pro-wrestler, but that turned out to be the case. I almost thought of Ken as one of the, to use a pro-wrestling term — a babyface, like he was a good guy. That’s kind of how he was presented, like as an early Captain America figure, sort of like Randy Couture, only less successful, I guess. Athletically. I guess I didn’t anticipate some of the things he had gotten into. Or even, I think in real life, he’s very much a flawed figure in a way I didn’t necessarily anticipate. I didn’t know the extent of this stuff. A lot of it was very surprising.

VR: One of the things I mentioned earlier was that consistency with some of the stories that Ken and other people told about Ken. One of the things that stood out to me the most, and this is, I think, stemming from my fandom — I don’t know what it was, but I felt for a number of years that Frank was the better fighter of the two, that Frank was the more complete athlete, he was the smarter fighter of the two, and that if they were to fight he would absolutely mop the floor with Ken. But the funny thing is that every single account in the book from everyone that you asked, everyone was incredibly confident that there was absolutely no way that would happen because Ken not only was the mentor in that relationship but he was that far ahead in technique and as far as everything was concerned. Did that surprise you at all? Because that sure as hell surprised me.

JS: I thought it was interesting, the regard with which they still kind of held Ken, or at least the idealized version of Ken. Some of that has to do with, there was a pretty complete separation from those guys and Frank. Like it was enforced, rigidly. And so they may not have been as familiar with Frank and what he could do later on in his career. I do think the things that they saw, Ken Shamrock is perhaps one of the most legendary gym fighters of early MMA in which he’s a guy who seems unstoppable in the dojo and when the lights come on for the big show it’s not really the same thing. There’s a lot of fighters like that to this day, who, if you go to Greg Jackson’s gym or wherever you want to go, you go to (American) Top Team or whatever, there are people there in the gym who don’t end up being huge stars that everyone at the gym is like “wow, that dude’s a total badass.“ One that I remember in a big way was from Randy Couture’s gym, this guy named Mike Pyle, who had some level of UFC success, but guys who were more successful than him as professional fighters would be like “that guy kicks our asses!“ And I think Ken was maybe that fighter in a big way. The way that he beat those guys, I think, mentally and emotionally, psychologically, physically, it almost creates this syndrome where it’s hard for them to imagine anyone beating Ken because they’ve been beaten by him so badly in their lives.

And they’ve seen him destroy Frank early on. And a lot of those are less technique differences and more differences in physicality. There’s also the thing where I don’t think Frank is exactly a street guy in the same way in that Ken would absolutely fight somebody. Like, Ken would be fighting someone right now. He wouldn’t have needed to wait to fight Frank in some kind of cage or whatever. They could fight at any time. I saw this footage, it was before the Ken Shamrock and Kimbo Slice fight that got cancelled (2008). Frank was on the broadcast team and he was gonna call the fight and they do these interviews with the fighters beforehand. It was a behind the scenes type of interview, like “tell me what you’re gonna do, what’s your gameplan?“ That kind of thing preparing them for the broadcast and Ken just starts talking this crazy trash about Frank. And Frank is just sitting there like he’s not gonna say shit, he’s not gonna do shit. And that made it more real to me, it’s like I saw it with my eyes. This guy is a little bit scared. He’s a pro fighter, he’s not scared, but there’s a chance that maybe Ken wants to fight right now, you know? I think they’ve all kind of like seen that and so, that really informs it. There’s also the part of the Lions’ Den where they told me “we were kind of in a cult“. These guys were in a cult and Ken was the leader. So it’s hard to be like “there’s this other guy in the cult and he’s even better than Ken.“ That goes against everything they know, right? It’s all very interesting to deal with these guys in this space because so much emotion is tied into it, you know?

VR: Yeah, the cult element was very evident. That did come through with the ups and down of the Lions’ Den, period. Funny how essentially it led to, in some crude way, the formation of what we now know as the prototypical high-level MMA gym. Do you think he gets enough credit for that? Maybe the fact that things were so difficult, maybe the borderline hazing and outright hazing that took place takes the shine off that?

JS: I think that he doesn’t get enough credit for a lot of that stuff that became, for good or bad what MMA is, or was. Definitely was one of first people to gather fighters together to train like this, he was the first to create this coercive management contract where he gets a percentage of the income, so he was doing the Ali thing before there was an Ali or whatever, you know? Because he was deciding, he wasn’t just training these guys, he was deciding “OK, you’re gonna fight in SuperBrawl. You’re gonna try the UFC. You’ll go to Japan.“ He was everything to these people, not just their trainer. So there was a lot going on with that. And then when you think about the Lion’s Den and that he didn’t just create a training environment, he took over their entire lives. They lived in the house that he owned, he paid for all the food. He was almost like God to these kids. But elements of that informed The Ultimate Fighter. These guys watched The Ultimate Fighter and said “that’... that’s the Lion’s Den. We lived in a house, we would let off steam and get crazy, we trained with this fighter all the time and that was our only focus.“ A lot of these early MMA tropes come out of the Lion’s Den. A lot of the reason I think he gets less credit than he deserves is obviously because most fans have spent the last decade watching him lose in embarrasing fashion, like increasingly embarrasing fasion. To the point where it’s hard to separate that and remember “hey, in 1995 this was a different story.” I think that definitely hurts him.

Ken Shamrock Bellator

VR: What do you hope readers take most from their experience reading this book? What do you want them to have as their major takeaway and sticks with them in a significant way?

JS: You know, that’s a good question. I’m not entirely sure... I hope there isn’t just one thing, because what I was trying to do was create this overall picture. What I hope you take away from this is an idea of who Ken Shamrock is and also what kind of people created this sport. What kind of human being gets into a cage, having never seen cagefiging as it had never existed before and says “yeah, I’ll try that.“ Sight unseen. Just like “Yup, why not? All these other guys they’re experts in their martial art? Yeah, I’ll fight that guy. For almost no money. Why not? Now I’m gonna make this my life.” It’s an interesting human being, you know? These pioneers of this sport. We use that term “pioneer“ so loosely. You know, I see it applied to Anderson Silva, “Anderson Silva was a pioneer”. Not really, they had been doing this for a decade. Ken Shamrock, though, was a pioneer. First Pancrase fight in Japan, he’s there. He’s winning the main event. First UFC, he’s there. The first Ultimate Fighter, he’s there. He’s the real thing, and so I hope that’s what they take away. What kind of complicated person built the sport. What kind of broken person, like a person that came from such darkness... I dunno. I’m rambling at this point.

I do think and I do hope you see the overall picture of who Ken is and I hope it explains maybe why some of the things that he’s done, why he did them. Why did he keep fighting long after it was embarrassing to everyone else? I think reading the book you understand that if you didn’t understand that before. Humanizing, maybe. Humanizing this legendary figure. Now he’s just a man, I think, after reading this book.

VR: That’s certainly what I took away from it, one of the major things that I hope that anyone else that reads this will not only interpret but internalize and resonate with them. Finally, I don’t want to tell the actual story, I’m gonna save it for people to read the book, but... Oleg Taktarov and the turkey... I mean, seriously dude? Really?

JS: (Laughs) I didn’t know what to make of that story, but people confirmed it... so I guess it’s a real story? The guy’s just a crazy man, I guess.

VR: Jesus...

JS: He was an intersting character. But you what’s interesting about Ken — and I was telling someone this the other day — the stories that are footnotes in this book? That’s like the major story for a regular person, like for your whole life. That’s your go-to party story, right? This is the big thing that happened to you. For Ken that’s just like something that happened on a Wednesday. And on Thursday he did even more crazy shit. The extent to the shenanigans they got into does still amaze me even though I’ve been thinking about them for years now. The life he’s lived, that’s pretty remarkable. So I’m glad I got the chance to share it with people.

VR: Well, any final message for the readers out there?

JS: Oh no, man. I’ve said so much already. I really appreciate you and sorry about you having to transcribe some of this babbling, but ... (laughs)

VR: Nah, don’t worry about it, dude. My pleasure.

JS: I’m just really happy that people are interested, that you enjoyed the book, this is really a thing that... I guess, you know, this was a self-funded labor of love. I did this because I care about this sport in my own strange way and want its history and the people that created it to be remembered as we continue to watch the instutional UFC will continue to erase everyone prior to Dana White, right? I want to remember the people that actually did this thing, and made it, in all its disgusting glory.

I’m really so happy that every time someone sends me a picture of the book, like “hey, I got my copy of the book!” it’s just so cool to have done this with the community, because the book was funded by readers and regular people sending me $10 or $20 in an Indiegogo campaign. That’s why this even possible. I’m just really flattered by your interest and thanks for taking the time to talk to me. It’s cool.

Shamrock: The World’s Most Dangerous Man is available now on in both digital and hardcover editions.