Remembering Shawn Tompkins:
With his bleached-blond hair, weight-lifter physique and infectious personality, mixed martial arts coach Shawn Tompkins could have easily been a successful TV or movie star, or at least chosen a profession that made him a celebrity. However, instead of living the life of an A-lister, Tompkins decided to stay in the background and coach, letting his fighters enjoy the white-hot spotlight that comes along with a successful MMA career.
For fans and many in the mixed martial arts community, Shawn Tompkins was a celebrity, but he was humble, had a big heart and never acted like a super star.
I had the privilege to get to know Shawn in 2006 during inaugural International Fight League season; he had recently taken over the Los Angeles Anacondas coaching responsibilities from Bas Rutten and wasn’t as well known when compared to the other “big name” coaches like Frank Shamrock, Renzo Gracie and Pat Miletich. But he worked hard and quickly made a name for himself by experiencing success and conducting himself in a professional manner.
His fighters were always prepared and he consistently took the time to do an interview or just hang out and talk about life. From then on, Shawn was one of my favorite people in the business to interview and more importantly a person I considered to be a good friend.
A simple hello could quickly turn into an hour-long conversation, a three-question interview would suddenly become a thirty-minute TV show and one drink at the bar could prove deadly. After leaving a production meeting in Edmonton before a Maximum Fighting Championship event, I learned firsthand that you’d better be prepared for drinking shots when you were with Shawn!
The MMA world has lost much more than a coach. Young fighters lost a mentor, the TapOut gym in Vegas lost a teacher, the sport lost an ambassador and most heartbreaking, his wife Emilie lost her husband.
To me, Shawn Tompkins will always be a megastar, for what he accomplished both in and outside of the cage.
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