August 15, 2011
For Tompkins, nothing was out of reach
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
The death of the man known as The Coach has devastated the Team Tompkins family.
Shawn Tompkins, the popular and well-respected mixed martial arts coach and trainer from Tillsonburg, passed away in his sleep Sunday in Ingersoll at the age of 37.
An autopsy was performed in London on Monday and the results have not been released.
Oxford County OPP was called to a residence in Ingersoll at around 1 p.m. Sunday.
The coroner's office is investigating the death.
Dr. Rick Mann of the office said the office is investigating the death under Section 10 of the Coroner's Act.
"The coroner investigates all non-natural deaths and some natural deaths," he said.
Section 10 includes investigating all deaths that occur "suddenly and unexpectedly."
Tompkins established Team Tompkins, a brand that became well known in the exploding sport of mixed martial arts. His team included UFC stars Mark Hominick and Sam Stout.
Hominick and Tompkins had been together for 12 years and they were as close as brothers.
"I just think the reality is setting in now," an emotional Hominick said Monday. "We are trying to get our head around this and we just can't. We're trying to hold it together but it's so hard."
Hominick said Tompkins was in Hamilton on Saturday night for an MMA card.
"He texted me before he left. He texted me during the fight," Hominick said. "Then he stayed at a friend's place from the gym and he went to bed and didn't wake up."
Hominick said that everyone's big concern is for Tompkins' wife Emilie. She arrived in London in Monday. Emilie is Stout's sister.
"We have to make sure she's OK," he said.
Emilie Tompkins released a statement late Sunday night.
"Team Tompkins thanks everyone for all of the condolences that have come in since the tragic news of 'The Coach's' death," the statement read. "Shawn would be touched beyond words by the outpouring of love from the MMA community. Sam Stout, Chris Horodecki, Mark Hominick, Kekoa Quipolta, Mr. and Mrs. Tompkins and I thank you for the respect you have shown us during this trying time. Shawn loved MMA and he considered all of you family. We will miss our Coach very much."
Quipolta is a partner and manager of the Tapout facility in Las Vegas. He got Tompkins to come to Tapout from Couture's gym.
Quipolta had trouble talking about Tompkins.
"I consider him my best friend," he said. "I got a call from Sam (Stout) (Sunday) afternoon and when I answered at first he couldn't say anything. Then he just told me to get to Shawn's house right away because Emilie was going home and to look after her."
Quipolta met Tompkins three years ago.
"I knew him the shortest but it was two guys who had a lot of bumps along the way to get where they are now," Quipolta said. "I considered him a Hawaiian and he considered me a Canadian."
Hominick said it was going to take some time to cope with the sudden loss.
"I don't know what to say, what to think right now," Hominick said. "It's an unbelievable thing. We'll somehow manage to get past this but right now . . . "
Tompkins had been in London for several days. He was here from his home base in Las Vegas where he lived and where he was the main MMA trainer at Tapout Training Centre. Tompkins was here preparing fighters, specifically Londoner Chris Horodecki, for their next bouts. He was working with them at the Adrenaline Training Centre, the gym owned by Hominick and Stout.
The atmosphere at Adrenaline reflected the grim reality that Tompkins would no longer walk through those doors. What normally is a bustling place only had a dozen people there and there was none of the usual sounds that accompany a MMA-focused place.
Tompkins made a name for himself in Las Vegas. He trained with and helped train some of the legends in the sport of MMA including Bas Rutten, Randy Couture, Dan Henderson and others.
While Tompkins always had a urge to continue fighting -- he carried an official 0-4 record in the UCC -- training was his true calling.
He worked as the striking coach at Xtreme Couture in Vegas before leaving for Tapout Training Facility. Besides training fighters, Tompkins was carving out a successful niche on MMA radio, with Hayabusa equipment and his own MMA clothing line called Headrush.
"We're still trying to come to grips with what happened," said Alex Gasson, a trainer and the manager at Adrenaline. "We're only getting bits and pieces.
"To tell you the truth, it's still such a shock. He was home though. I don't know how to look at it but he had a chance to hang out with friends and family before he went."