The Truth About Steve Irwin's Martial Arts Training

Steve Irwin's wrestling skills are world-renowned. The Australian zookeeper didn't earn himself the nickname "The Crocodile Hunter" for nothing. The guy literally wrestled crocodiles, so you'd think pesky people would pose no threat to him. But Steve Irwin wasn't the kind of person to show up unprepared. In addition to his reptile wrangling, he also diligently practiced martial arts, just in case some cocky human came along and tried to pull off what the crocs couldn't.

Retired UFC fighter Kyle Noke served as Irwin's bodyguard for three years. Well, it started as a bodyguard position, but Noke told in 2017 that what the six-foot-two, 220-pound animal expert really wanted was a trainer. "Right, you've got the job, now let's talk about fighting," the retired pro fighter recalls his former boss saying when he was first hired onto his security detail. To hear Noke tell it, Irwin's dedication to his martial arts training was as strong as his love for protecting and interacting with other species of the animal kingdom.

Steve Irwin took his martial arts training very seriously

As Noke's job transitioned from bodyguard to personal trainer, he saw Irwin show more and more dedication to the art of self-defense. Steve even built a training cage at Australia Zoo so that he could keep his skills sharp when he wasn't grappling with gators. He took the development of his fighting skills very seriously. "We'd do mixed martial arts sparring every Wednesday," said Noke. "Tuesday night he couldn't sleep a wink. He'd be down there in the gym with his hands all wrapped, gloves on at 2 o'clock in the morning shadow-boxing, waiting for us to get there at 7 o'clock."

The sleepless nights paid off. Noke said that Irwin was "super strong." Like any fighter worth his salt in the ring, Irwin had a signature move, and you've probably seen him execute it a hundred times, just not on a human opponent. "Whenever he held you down, took you down, he'd get on top of you and there was no way you could get him off of you," Noke said. Well, what did you expect? If a 16-foot, 2,000-pound leftover dinosaur couldn't do it, none of us puny humans ever had a chance.