Shem Rock: Meet the Liverpudlian who went from going on the run to Malaysia to fighting at Oktagon MMA 42

From a life of crime in Liverpool, to running away to Malaysia, Shem Rock might have the greatest story in MMA history, and at Oktagon MMA 42, he’ll finally have the opportunity to introduce himself to the world.

In a tale that encapsulates redemption, adventure, mistreatment and sheer blood, guts and determination, the journey of one the country’s hottest prospects is one that will undeniably make the history books.

But to solidify his legacy, he’ll need to capitalise on the mountain of potential that he’s for so long had to keep in the shadows.

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Growing up on a council estate in Toxteth, Rock didn’t have the greatest of starts. Rather than looking up to those in respectable jobs, he found himself admiring the men who made their money in controversial practices, and it didn’t take long for the streets to real him in.

Speaking exclusively to SPORF, he explained: “School wasn’t really my thing. Everyone around me was on the streets all the time, and before you know it, you’re with the older ones who are selling drugs, and you end up on the same path.”

But despite the temptation that threatened to overwhelm him, he enrolled at a horticultural school in Nantwich, Cheshire. But his good intentions were rendered irrelevant when the police turned up to arrest him over an accusation of handling stolen goods.

Despite zero proof, the college asked him to leave the course, which forced him back into the underworld.

And while Rock confesses that he didn’t live the cleanest lifestyle, what happened next turned his world upside down.

Shem Rock went on the run to Malaysia

To his core, Rock always carried a good set of morals and had his childhood been different, who knows what would’ve happened? But it certainly wouldn’t have been this.

He revealed: “It’s weird. When I tell people that I have a dislike for the police, they don’t really understand it. They don’t know what we’ve been through. They haven’t had to live life in our shoes.

“My Mum’s been disabled by the police. They came in and beat my mum up. I seen from a young age police kicking the door off. Police used to harass me on a daily basis. I can remember being 12 years of age and seeing police and thinking, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong and I’ve got nothing on me, but if they stop me, I’m going to run’.

“That shouldn’t be the mindset of a 12-year-old lad.”

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Therefore, when the police wanted to arrest him for an aggravated burglary he hadn’t committed, Rock only had one option in his mind.

He confessed: “I thought if I hand myself in, I’m going to jail. There was no doubt in my mind that I was guilty until proven guilty. Even though I didn’t do it, I just thought, ‘f*ck the police’, I’m gonna run and make their job ten times harder.

“I ended up in Malaysia and found martial arts.”

Shem Rock walks into the gym

While Rock may have escaped the police, upon his arrival in the country, he suffered with the difficulties of living without a a purpose.

However, things quickly took a turn when he spotted a sign for a Brazilian jiu-jitsu gym. Having proven himself as a handy operator on the streets, the youngster assumed he could do a number on his training partners, but it didn’t exactly work out like that.

The athlete laughed: “I’d walk in the gym and think, these are normal people, I can beat these up. But I couldn’t even beat the kids up, I was getting done in by everyone, even the women. That’s because they knew jiu-jitsu, and I didn’t. I wanted to learn what they were doing to me so I can do it to other people, so I just applied myself. I caught the bug.”

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He continued: “I had my first competition after just two months of training, and I won, I submitted everyone. After I’d competed, that was it. I was like, ‘When’s the next one’? Before I knew it, I was a professional fighter, but it was weird because I was on the run. I had to keep it secret from the world.”

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Shem Rocks becomes a professional fighter

Advancing at a rapid rate, Rock amassed a 4-0 amateur record on Malaysian Invasion before turning over to the professional game.

Despite dealing with the emotional stress of not knowing if the police were about to burst into his living room, the natural-born fighter showcased his incredible mental durability by remaining on the right track and eventually reaped the rewards of his labour, bagging a place on One Championship’s reality TV series ‘One Warrior’.

But sadly, when the producers discovered his background, they removed him from the competition, and it had a ripple effect in the gym. Despite his pleas of innocence, his coach washed his hands of him, and while many would’ve quit, a devastated Rock continued to follow his dream making the call to head to Dublin, Ireland.

However, being so close to home was always a risk. During a trip across the border to County Antrim, Rock lost his first fight, and the next day he was arrested by police.

But while being detained would’ve disheartened many, Rock knew the truth, and soon everyone else would have to believe him.

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After six months on remand, new evidence came to light, proving that the warrior had nothing to do with the crime he was accused of.

Now, finally a free man, Rock is ready to live the life he always believed was possible.

He beamed:  “I’ve won two titles, and now I’m fighting on Oktagon. I couldn’t be happier. It was a tough path, but I believe everything happened how it was meant to. I’m glad I went through the hurdles I went through.

“It’s crazy. Everyone had grown up. My brother had gone from a child to a man. I can do everything I wanted to do. I waited for the first weekend to pass, and I went to Next Gen, and I was gassing like crazy and threw up in my first session.

“Now people know the truth, I can better myself and help my family.”

Shem Rock is ready for Oktagon MMA 42

After years of fighting in the wilderness, Rock is finally competing on the platform he deserves.

At Oktagon MMA 42, live from the Zimny Stadion Ondreja Nepelu in Bratislava, Slovakia, the seasoned operator will begin his ascent towards the belt.

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A confident Rock smiled: “It’s crazy lad. I feel like Oktagon is the perfect place for me. I’ve always been the travelling scouser. I’ve fought all over Asia, the Middle East and Ireland. However, I’ve never fought in Liverpool, which is mental. It’s just another part of the journey, and I’m blessed, the energy is high.”

And Rock is already setting his sights on Oktagon’s debut UK show, ‘Stage to the Cage,’ headlined by comedian, Paul Smith, vs reality star, Jake Quickenden.

“I am 100%, I don’t care what anyone tells me, fighting on that card. I’m going to smash this fight, I’ll sneak in another, and then you can’t deny me. I’m going to be calling for Losene Keita. Come and defend your belt against me.”

Without a doubt, Rock has the story and the requisite charisma to take over the sport.

Consequently, fans across the world are bursting through the seams with excitement to watch the most eagerly-anticipated Oktagon debut of all time. And they can catch all the action on DAZN. This is one that MMA enthusiasts can’t afford to miss.

Featured Image Credit: Oktagon MMA