MMAFighting scribe Shaun Al-Shatti has been churning out some fantastic longreads, and his latest – “Until the Last Light Leaves London” – is no different than the rest in terms of being a must-read story.
The piece delves deeply into the lives of Sam Stout and his former teammates, and how the loss of trainer and mentor Shawn Tompkins cut a deep gash in the very souls of their lives and careers that they never quite healed from. It is, at times (really, most times), heartbreaking stuff. (If you’ll recall, Tompkins, who coaches the likes of Stout, Mark Hominick, Chris Horodecki, and others, died suddenly of a heart attack in his sleep.)
Sam tells you he was in awe the first afternoon they met. He was 16 and his older sister Emilie spotted Shawn at a party. Soon this hulking figure with hair like Slim Shady was standing in the living room. It blew him away; this guy in his mid-twenties who was living a fighter’s life, spinning dizzying tales about traveling the world, training in Venezuela, training in America, meeting celebrities and cracking skulls in towns only heard of in passing. Intoxicating. The schoolyard fights lost their luster after an afternoon like that.
They became inseparable. Then they became family. Emilie married Shawn, and Shawn helped Sam harness his natural gifts — hands like grenades and a cast iron chin that put most lightweights to shame. Sam grew to be Team Tompkins incarnate, an all-offense banger who lived and died by Shawn’s bellowing advice. The Coach saw openings from the corner like no one else. Like receiving texts from five seconds in the future.
Do yourself a favor and read the rest. It’s great stuff.