He was too well dressed to be a Cowboy, his suit was pressed, nice tie and freshly shined shoes. I had no idea who he was when he walked up to our control booth. We were setting up for a live broadcast in Cheyenne, Wyoming of all places. My mind was on other things as he handed me a bright red folder with a Celtic looking crest on the front. I looked closer and noticed the words around the crest, “Legends of MMA, Hall of Fame.” He extended his hand and said, “Ashe Bowman, I’m putting together an MMA Hall of Fame…” I thought to myself, that sounds like a good idea but what does he want from me? He explained his vision, in a smooth southern draw, as I worked. I don’t know if it was the idea or the sales pitch but the more he talked, the more I wanted to help. “The sport is much bigger than the UFC,” he said. And he was going to travel the country and contact each nominee personally. I wished him luck, got his number and told him to stay in touch. And now, Ashe Bowman’s vision to start the first ever MMA Hall of Fame has become reality.
The Legends of MMA Hall of Fame differs from the international boxing hall of fame in several ways but holds the same spirit of induction. “The sport is bigger than any organization ‘Al ah’ the UFC. People need to be recognized and people need to have a voice. We run this like the rock and roll hall of fame there is influence of the fans. You must me a good person inside and outside the ring,” says Ashe Bowman, CEO of the organization. Each inductee receives an official MMA HOF championship ring produced in 10k white gold and surround by 14 rubies valued at $2,500 each. They also receive a serial numbered induction certificate and crystal award. Every HOF inductee has the opportunity for licensed merchandise and other ventures. “On the back end the fighters acquire a venue to generate income for the rest of their lives,” says Bowman.
The Legends Hall of Fame gives back a substantial portion of all proceeds, from all merchandise, to the men who earned it and built the sport from the ground up. The Legends of MMA HOF is also continually working to procure endorsements, product merchandising, television & motion picture appearances and roles for the inductees. “A percentage of retail merchandise is disbursed to each member providing them with post-career income, is the goal of the Legends of MMA HOF,” Says Bowman
The Legends of Hall of Fame wants to keep these fighters relevant and keep the sport accountable to their effort and dedication. They identify a distinction between the overall ‘sport” and the UFC. The Legends of MMA HOF is global and all encompassing. There were 20 nominees for the 2014 class of The Legends of MMA HOF. Only five will be inducted in November; Art Davie, Pat Miletich, Rickson Gracie, Fedor Emelianenko and Big John McCarthy. “The Legends of MMA HOF fans have also spoken and had a huge influence on the induction of Fedor,” says Bowman. “They Blew up Facebook and Twitter to voice their adoration for Fedor Emelianenko.” The Legends of MMA HOF takes fan opinion seriously and responds promptly.
From a fighters standpoint you must have 10 years experience and must have won a championship in a large Martial Arts Organization. Trainers must have at least 1 champion in any organization and anyone else depends on how much they have influenced the sport and that means advancing the sport in the public view. This year, Inside MMA’s Ron Crook will host the ceremony at the Silver Legacy Casino in Reno, Nevada and the presenters include MMA Futures own Jens Pulver, Sean Wheelock and Monte Cox. “This is the first year we will have an award show,” says Bowman.
The Legends of MMA Hall of Fame is doing a great thing for the sport of MMA and the way they are going about it is even better. Congratulations to all of this years inductees and we look forward to many more to come.