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Fighting for a good cause - that's Ken
Posted on Sun, Nov 28, 2010 at 8:19 am
by IDMA Editor

"Some of the places reminded me of my home town. I grew up in a poverty-stricken area. Same kind of housing. So it really brought back memories."

The 46-year-old visited the Chatsworth Youth Centre - ahead of his exhibition fight at Durban's ICC on Thursday - where he addressed pupils. Known as "the world's most dangerous man", Shamrock, who grew up in Warner Robins, Georgia, told of the obstacles he faced while growing up with little adult supervision.

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Although retired, he is still involved, training up-and-coming mixed martial arts fighters and facilitating the creation of new gyms in impoverished areas in the US and now SA.

"I grew up in poverty. I was running around when I was five and six doing my own thing. I hung around the wrong type of kids and I was stabbed at the age of 10," said Shamrock.

He recalled times when he slept in cars and also touched on his biological mother, who was an exotic dancer. He said after being shunted from one foster home to another, he finally found stability at the Shamrock Ranch - a California facility for troubled boys.

He was adopted by the owner, Bob, and changed his surname from Kilpatrick to Shamrock as a tribute to his adoptive father.

Now he has plans on showing South African children, and youngsters in his home country, that there are better alternatives to the bad influences that they are often subjected to.

Tremaine Krishna, 12, a Grade 7 Glenview Primary pupil, said he loved the art of wrestling and was hoping to become a wrestler one day.

Another Glenview Primary pupil, Melvin Reddy, 12, said he was glad to be a part of the programme as his main interest was learning how to protect himself.

"I wanted to learn how to do some of those cool moves and I also think it's a good way to protect myself."

Youth Centre coordinator Clive Pillay said he hoped Shamrock's talk would have "a positive effect on the children and encourage them to take up sport".

Said Shamrock: "Kids will gravitate to what makes them feel good, whether it's going to be drugs, sex or whether its going to be violence."

He believes his programmes and training centres will help children "gravitate towards the good things".

Shamrock added: "Going into these neighbourhoods, I see the opportunities these kids can have in this kind of sport, that they will begin to feel good about something and themselves and realise it's not just about the fight."

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His advice to youngsters: "It's okay to have aggression, as long as there is a way to use it constructively - whether you find that in sport or acting or drawing, it doesn't matter."

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