By Sean Ross Sapp (@SeanRossSapp)
This afternoon, I received the unfortunate news (via Jake Shannon’s Facebook) of the passing of legendary catch-as-catch-can wrestler and professional wrestler, Billy Robinson.
I had the privilege of learning from Billy Robinson first-hand, something I always wanted to do before ceasing MMA training due to injuries. My coaches Jay Grooms and Brandon McCleese idolized Coach Robinson, and our fight team and grappling team has met overwhelming success based on the principles he taught.
Robinson was an alumni of Billy Riley’s “Snake Pit”, which was a physically and mentally grueling training environment that primed the legend for the rest of this life.
Robinson would go on the AWA, Japan, UWF, and countless other professional wrestling promotions, on his way to high profile matches with WWWF Champion Bob Backlund, Nick Bockwinkel, and most famously—Antonio Inoki. Robinson is also known for popularizing the Tombstone Piledriver.
The legacy in which Coach Robinson leaves behind can’t be explained within the constraints of this piece, and his imprint will forever be felt within MMA and pro wrestling. Current top-10 UFC heavyweight Josh Barnett and Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba, in addition to women’s MMA pioneer Shayna Baszler were all trained under the watchful eye of Coach Billy Robinson.
The toughness and grit in which Coach Robinson taught was matched only by the technique and effectiveness of what he taught. I’m proud to say that I became mentally stronger as a person due to his teaching methods.
After wrestling into his 60’s, Robinson would go on to be inducted into the International Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003.
I would like to thank Coach Billy Robinson for what he taught me, as well as my teammates and coaches. I know they’re excited to keep professional wrestling alive in MMA, and to pass down the knowledge that he shared with us.
We’ll miss you, Coach.