Shawn Tompkins, the Las Vegas-based MMA trainer who coached some of the UFC’s biggest stars, was found dead Sunday morning in his native Canada. Tompkins was 37.
News of the passing of the man known simply as “The Coach” started trickling out late Sunday afternoon about the same time as UFC’s live event on Versus began in Milwaukee when Tompkins’ friend and journalist Mike Straka reported that Tompkins never woke up Sunday morning in Hamilton, Canada — where he was working with members of his team.
Tompkins’ wife, Emilie Stout, the sister of UFC fighter Sam Stout, confirmed the tragic news to ESPN and said she was traveling to Canada today. Sam Stout told The London Free Press, an Ontario newspaper, on Tuesday that an autopsy revealed Tompkins passed away from an apparent heart attack.
“Team Tompkins thanks everyone for all of the condolences that have come in since the tragic news of ‘The Coach’s’ death. Shawn would be touched beyond words by the outpouring of love from the MMA community,” Emilie said in a statement late Sunday evening.
“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.”
Tompkins, a native of Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada, fought briefly as a pro (he was winless in four bouts), but made his name in the sport for his tutelage of 15 champions including the likes of Vitor Belfort, Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, and Wanderlei Silva and up-and-coming fighters Mark Hominick, Chris Horodecki and Stout. After moving to Las Vegas from London, Ontario, Canada Tompkins worked as a striking coach at Couture’s Xtreme Couture gym before moving two years ago to establish his own team at the TapouT Training Center.
Tompkins’ manager, Gary Ibarra of Athletic Management & Representation Group, said individuals wishing to express their sympathies to the Tompkins family may do so at a special guestbook that has been set up for Tompkins. The Shawn Tompkins Memorial Fund has been established and anyone wishing to contribute can contact TeamTompkins@ShogunMMA.com. A memorial service will be held in Las Vegas in the coming weeks; while Tompkin’s funeral service is set for Friday at 1 p.m. at West Park Church, 955 Gainsborough Rd., in London, Ontario, Canada.
“Shawn was more than a client, he was personal friend whose love of MMA had enormous influence on our agency and the entire sport,” Ibarra said. “His passion and vision for MMA was infectious, evident by how he could motivate his fighters to become better athletes and people. On behalf of AMR Group’s athletes and staff, we extend our deepest sympathies to Emilie, Sam and Shawn’s entire family. His spirit will live on in our hearts.”