LONDON, ONT. - Accomplished and well-respected mixed martial arts trainer Shawn Tompkins was found dead Sunday morning at the age of 37.
Tompkins was in Hamilton on Saturday night for an MMA fight card.
Tompkins, who had worked for the last four years in Las Vegas, died in Canada. He was born in the Tillsonburg, Ont., area but lived a great deal of his life in London.
Few details were available about his death, but one report indicates he didn’t wake up from his sleep.
Tompkins began his career from nothing and built it into a successful training, marketing and merchandising business.
Tompkins said he knew he wanted to work in the world of martial arts since the age of 12. He grew up in Corinth, just outside Tillsonburg.
Tompkins began his mixed martial arts career as a fighter, but he went 0-4. His strength lay in training and he trained fighters from all over the world. He had more than 35 professional fighters in his training stable at the time of his death.
Tompkins opened his first gym in a garage in Tillsonburg. He then moved to London where he opened a gym on the second floor of the King’s Inn.
It was there that he began working with Thamesford’s Mark Hominick. Hominick is now a top contender in the UFC’s featherweight division.
As Tompkins’ reputation grew, he turned his attention to training. He continued to expand his gym and along the way developed young fighters such as Sam Stout, a stalwart in the UFC’s lightweight category and Chris Horodecki.
Tompkins met Sam Stout through Stout’s sister Emilie when the two were dating. The two eventually married and were together more than 10 years.
With mixed martial arts professional competitions still illegal in Ontario, Tompkins headed to Las Vegas, Tompkins was the coach for the Los Angeles Anacondas of the International Fight League in 2007.
He then became the striking instructor at the Xtreme Couture gym in Las Vegas. Randy Couture was an MMA icon.
"Shawn was a mentor and coach to many of us in the MMA world. He will be sorely missed!!!" Couture wrote on Twitter.
After a successful stint at the famed facility, he left to teach at the Tapout Training Center.
Among some of the fighters Tompkins worked with were Couture, Dan Henderson, Goran Reljic, Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva.
Tompkins’s home in Las Vegas was unique because he had turned the top floor into a residence for fighters he trained.
Most of his out-of-town fighters would arrive at the house four to six weeks before their bouts and would live there with wife Emilie, Shawn and their two dogs, Patsy Cline and Cowboy.