|Mixed-martial arts trainer Shawn Tompkins poses at the Tap Out Training Center in Las Vegas last month. (Photo by Steve Marcus for QMI Agency)
TORONTO - It was a bit of news that shook the MMA world.
As the UFC on Versus 5 free TV event was set to air, word was breaking that the man behind some of Canada’s top fighters, had died.
Shawn Tompkins — who trained Sam Stout, Mark Hominick, Chris Horodecki and so many other young talented Canucks — fell victim to a heart attack at the Ingersoll, Ont., home of a friend.
At a mere 37-years-old and in seemingly perfect health, the news was almost unbelievable.
The blonder-than-blonde former kickboxer — who had trained Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva — was gone.
Those fortunate enough to have met him will remember a straight-forward, even-keeled man who seemed to always greet friends and strangers with a smile.
He had an enthusiasm for the sport long before it was fashionable and would chauffeur his crew of teen fighters across the border to Quebec whenever the chance to fight arose.
His passion for MMA never waned and his insight into a sport that is far more complex than it may appear on a pay-per-view, never stopped growing.
Thoughts are with his family and his fight team — each a classy protégé of their mentor.
Tompkins’ legacy will live on through the contributions he made to the sport and through those young teens who have grown to become UFC fighters.
When the immediate shock and grief of his passing begins to fade, they will no doubt gain strength from the memory of their coach.
In the meantime, heaven just got one hell of a cornerman.