We love to talk about champions — those who challenge us, push through impossible obstacles, and obtain their objective.
Maybe the word “champion” has been overused. Maybe I’ve even overused it, … but not on this episode of the Cannonball Mindset podcast.
We interviewed a real champion, Frank Shamrock.
He was the first UFC Middleweight Champion. He defended his title 4 times, retiring from the UFC undefeated. He went on to become an international speaker, mentor, homebuilder, entrepreneur, author, and documentarian.
But his story didn’t start out as a champion. It started out in abuse, dysfunction, and prison.
‘I Threw Rocks at a Train When I was 11. That’s a Felony in California’
When Frank was 11, he ended up in juvenile detention. He threw rocks at a train, which is a felony in California.
But those 10 days in detention had an odd effect on him: He wanted to do whatever it took to come back. “I doubled-down on crime,” Frank said. He committed crime all the time to get out of his home situation.
To understand why an 11-year-old would want to come back to jail, let’s give you one of his childhood snapshots:
His aunt found him locked in a closet when he was only a few years old.
He was hanging upside down by his knees.
Frank’s mother had locked him in there as punishment. This was a common occurrence.
His stepfather wou also psychologically abuse him: He would have 7-year-old Frank stare at him in the face with his hands under the table. He would ask questions, and if Frank gave a wrong answer, he would slap his hands.
To Frank, this was all normal.
He couldn’t understand his lack of relationships or his inability to focus in school.
But he did know he felt better when he was away from home. Crime and time became his escape.
After his 11-year-old felony, he started hopping between foster homes, jail, and his real dad’s house for a couple weeks (whom he’d never met), until he was 17.Everything changed then.
Who Asks to Transfer From Juvie to an Adult Prison? A Champion
Frank married his first wife at 17, thus becoming an emancipated minor and a ward of the state. But frank didn’t realize the scope of this legal transition.
Still caught up in crime, he racked up 20 felonies, landing him in a youth detention center but with far greater legal implications than before his emancipation— his sentences became dramatically longer.
He was sentenced to 6 1/2 years.
This time, he had a wife and a son, and the consequences shook him:
“I was exactly what my dad was in my family, which was non-existent.” Frank quipped. “I knew I had to change.”
“I was exactly what my dad was in my family, which was non-existent. I knew I had to change.” — Frank Shamrock
Here’s what makes a champion different:
Frank didn’t complain about everyone else. He said he realized that his own actions had landed him there, and his own actions could change his reality.
He grabbed a manilla folder. On the front he wrote down who he was. On the back, he put down who he wanted to be. What did he write in the middle? What it would take for Frank to transition from the guy on the front, to the guy on the back.
He took inventory of his current situation: 6 more years with his “friends” in jail wasn’t going to do him any favors. Plus, in the juvenile system, there was no 1-for-1 rule, like there is in adult prison, where you get to take one day off your sentence for every one day of good behavior.
He started reading on prison laws, and discovered that he could be transferred to an adult prison, which could potentially get him out quicker. Plus, the facility was closer to his family. So he asked to move.
They sent him to counseling.
No one in juvenile detention had asked to be transferred to an adult facility.
‘You Can Be a Stripper, or an MMA fighter’
Let’s fast forward to a fresh-out-of-prison Frank Shamrock.
He’d been working out in prison. Hard.
His foster parent Bob Shamrock (a legend unto himself) had a talk with Frank two weeks before he got out of jail.
He’d told him that with his amazing physical shape, his little education and practically no work experience, he had two options:
“You can be a stripper, or a fighter.”
The former didn’t sound enticing to Frank.
So shortly after release, Bob dropped Frank off at an MMA gym:
“Don’t show them you’re scared, and don’t quit.”
‘Don’t Show Them You’re Scared, and Don’t Quit.’
Frank never did.
His first day of tryouts, they beat the blood out of him. Literally. They wanted to see if he could take it. The prison-hardened Frank couldn’t even workout when he hobbled back in a week later. But after two weeks, he started training.
His first official fight was supposedly 10 minutes, but Frank said it felt like 1. It was a blur. He won, and he kept on winning, eventually becoming the first middleweight champion in UFC.
The transition was sudden, and a stark contrast from his childhood:
He had never spent the night at a friend’s house growing up, much less been to a concert.
But Biohazard met him after a fight, and asked if he wanted VIP tickets to their show. He jumped off the stage with the band into the crowd.
I’m Going to End Up Rich, Unhappy & Unuseful
As he was accomplishing more and more in the MMA scene, Frank had a realization: He had never fully dealt with his childhood scars.
He started taking emotional and spiritual inventory, and surrounding himself with those he respected.
Now, he can share about his, even with a stranger on a podcast.
He’s even developed a method from martial arts he calls Plus, Equals, & Minus.
Plus: Is someone who has something you want, someone you can learn from. For Frank, that’s Tony Robinson, as well as his neighbor who’s been married for 48 years.
Equals: Your competitors, those you should measure yourself against
Minus: The most important part: Those to whom you can give back what you’ve learned.
Frank has gone all around the globe, inspiring others with his prison-to-champion success and uncovering what MMA taught him about life.
From abuse, to a loving father, and a world-class fighter — a true champion.
What Was on the Back of that Manilla Folder?
Oh, we never told you what he wrote on the back of that folder when he was in prison. His desired future was:
He went from prison to all the above.
When You Leave This Earth, What Do You Want Your Legacy To Be?
We asks this to every guest.
Frank specifically noted that he does not believe his true legacy is being a world-class fighter.
He wants to be remembered as a teacher:
“I have a gift for teaching.”
Well said, Frank.
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