Due to some tragic news I've shifted away from my planned My Town Monday post, but hopefully next week I'll be discussing Amarillo's role in one of the world's great mysteries.
Caprock High School sits on the southeast side of Amarillo. Truth be told it doesn't have a great reputation in the city. The district is made up primarily of lower middle class families with a majority of students having a Hispanic heritage. The football team is rarely good and in these parts, what happens on the gridiron far overshadows all other sports. Though to be honest the Caprock Longhorns do not fare much better any most other sports either. That one exception is and always has been wrestling.
The school has won countless state title both in the overall team and individuals. I graduated from Caprock in 1991 and in those days wrestling was only a boys sport, but in recent years girls wrestling has been added and the females have joined in and only added to the school's tradition of excellence in the sport. Matter of fact the school has won the last five state team championships in the girls division.
But I'm going to step back in time to my sophomore year when the school had an individual state champion. That wrestler was a junior and he was one year older than me. If I remember right he finished second in state his senior year, but it was what he did after high school that endured him to many and propelled his name to the top of fight circles.
In 1997 some of Evan Tanner's friends talked him into fight in in a local Mixed Martial Arts Tournament. Tanner won the tournament by defeating three different fighter that night including fellow Caprock Alum and future UFC Heavyweight contender Paul Buentello.
With that success in his resume Tanner began to study grappling and martial arts in a more serious manner. In 1998 he traveled to Japan and at Tokyo became the first American to ever win the Pancrase Neo-Blood tournament.
With his reputation established Evan Tanner headed to the premiers organization in mixed martial arts. The UFC --Ultimate Fighting Championships.
He had many success in his fighting career posting a record of 32 wins and only 8 losses. On February 5th, 2005 he won the UFC Middleweight Championship.
On September 3rd, 2008 Evan rode his dirt bike in to the California desert near Brawley, California. What happened after that differs. Some reports say he ran out of gas and others simply say he was hiking to a spring to refill his canteen. Either way, the heat and exhaustion of hiking in 118 degree temperature, led to his death. His body was spotted by helicopter on September 8th. Heat exposure is listed as the preliminary cause of his death. A sad end to a dang tough champions life.
Here is a video tribute to Tanner that I found on You Tube.
I didn't know Evan, but we gave from the same side of town. I saw him wrestle on his way to a state title. I saw his very first fights as a professional an we walked the same halls as kids. Caprock High School may not have the best reputation, but for those who wore orange and were proud to call themselves Longhorns will all remember Evan and take a bit of hope out of the fact life is what you make out of it, not where you happen to come from.
The above shot was taken by my friend Steve Austin. The words Longhorn country are from the top of the Caprock High gym as see from a golf course just across the street. A field with actual longhorn cattle sits between the two.
Posts from other MY TOWN MONDAYERS
Linda McLaughlin -- Like me, Linda offers up a tragic post. This one from Chatsworth, California.
Debra -- The sweet music of Peninsula, Ohio
Lyzzydee -- Gives us a historical look at Amsterdam.
Barbara Martin -- Teaches us about heroes from Toronto, Canada.
Clair Dickson -- The end of Eminem's road in Livingston County, Michigan
Barrie Summy -- A meaty post from rural Oklahoma.
Reb -- Road tripping in Alberta, Canada
Clare2E -- A haunting look at New Haven, Connecticut.
PreTzel -- Looking for a spooky thrill in small town Iowa.
Patti Abbott -- The other end of Detroit, Michigan's 8 Mile Road.
Gerri Russell -- Vacationing in Scotland
Mary Nix -- Plots out Olmsted Falls, Ohio's location.
David Cranmer -- A bit of language fun from West Africa
Patricia Wood -- Gets sharky with editing from Hawaii.
Junosmom -- Escape the glitz and glamor and get away in Kentucky