Phenom Management is proud to introduce, Shannon Ihrke!

By | June 8, 2012 at 10:59 am | No comments | Partners/Affiliates

Below is a feature interview with MMA ring girl and model Shannon Ihrke, a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps that has graced the pages of Maxim magazine and worked with top national brands such as energy drink makers Rockstar and Monster. To schedule Shannon for an interview, photo shoot, or public appearance, contact Ricky Vasquez of Phenom Management at

ProElite ring girl Shannon Ihrke rose to the rank of corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps
before embarking on a successful modeling career


MMA Ring Girl, Model Excels with Marine Corps Background


 Going from a small town in Minnesota to a successful modeling career requires a pretty face, but mixed martial arts ring girl Shannon Ihrke has a whole lot of brains and brawn to go along with her stunning physical features. And if you don’t believe that, she’ll be happy to prove it to you.

Ihrke tried taking the more conventional path, enrolling at St. Cloud University to pursue a degree in marketing. Halfway through her second year, though, Ihrke felt like she needed a plan before racking up a bunch of student loans.

“I didn’t want to be one of those college kids who ends up $100,000 in debt without a job lined up,” Ihrke said.

She didn’t have any financial aid options immediately available, but a career counselor at the school said that if she wanted her bills paid for, she could join the military.Not one to dawdle, Ihrke went to meet with an Air Force recruiter to see about enlisting.

The Air Force would need her to wait several months before she could enter boot camp, but the Marine Corps recruiter said she could be dressed in fatigues and going through the ringer in a week or so.

If you aren’t familiar with the Marine Corps, it isn’t for the faint of heart. Perhaps more than any other military branch, marines have to pass a litany of mental and physical tests to weed out the weak. And it just so happens that a petite blonde from Walker, Minn., passed with flying colors. “When I was growing up, I was playing soccer, basketball, and track and field, so I’d always been ready physically,” Ihrke said. “It was the mental part I wasn’t completely ready for at first. I grew up in a home where my parents never yelled, and here is this drill instructor in my face screaming at me, and I didn’t even know how to tell them I needed to go to the bathroom.”

She joked, “I don’t think I went to the bathroom for the first week because I was too scared to ask.”

After getting through boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., and getting stationed in Beaufort, Ihrke quickly moved up to the rank of corporal. How’d she do it? She didn’t take any crap and wasn’t afraid to work twice as hard to prove herself in a military service that is 94 percent male.

“For this little blondie to walk into a unit, guys are going to automatically pass judgment,” she said. “Whenever I approached a new unit, I had to be really aggressive and in your face. Then when I start keeping up with you in the physical training and outshooting you on the rifle range … Then they’re like, ok, we’re not going to mess with her.

“It’s a big stereotype that everyone thinks you’re getting special treatment because you’re female,” Ihrke said. “We work three-times as hard as a male to get things accomplished.”

There are probably easier ways to get into modeling than joining the military, but the experience has paid off for Ihrke, who’s graced the pages of Maxim magazine, been a ProElite and King of the Cage ring girl, and worked with brands such as Rockstar Clothing and Monster Energy Drink. If you need a fitness, runway, television, or magazine model, she can do it all.

On top of all of that, she can probably beat you up. Thanks to her military background, Ihrke is well-versed in the Marine Corps hand-to-hand combat system, which incorporates many techniques from MMA.

“I actually didn’t have a lot of mixed martial arts experience until I joined,” she said. “Right when I got stationed in South Carolina, I started advancing in my mixed marital arts belt rankings and it was something I was really interested in. Once I find a good gym nearby, I’d like to get back into doing kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu type stuff.”

Still, with all that she’s accomplished, Shannon’s habits from her time as a marine are still evident, whether it’s showing up at a photo shoot 15 minutes early or spending extra time understanding the subject matter she’s promoting.

“You go from [the military] to modeling, where people think you just have a pretty face, that can get frustrating,” she said. “But then it’s always been my goal to change people’s minds about me by the end of the shoot.”

With time as a ProElite ring girl now on her resume, Ihrke is also starting to make a name for herself in the MMA realm. As an added bonus, she has the knowledge and background to promote the sport in more ways than simply entertaining the crowd in between rounds.

“Being on the edge of the cage, standing there, smiling, that’s the easy part,” Ihrke said. “I want to more than that and talk to people, talk to the fans.“I will stand at a booth at the Arnold’s for hours if I see a little kid at the end of the line. I’m like, ‘I’m going to keep signing these things until that kid gets through.’”

She added, “I always pretend like my mom is there. If I don’t think it would be something that my mom would approve, I’m not going to do that shoot that with you. I want to be a role model.”

Up next for Ihrke is an appearance at the UFC Fan Expo on July 6-7 in Las Vegas, taking pictures with fans and signing autographs at the Ranger Up booth. To schedule Shannon for an interview, photo shoot, or public appearance, contact Ricky Vasquez of Phenom Management at

Jason Przewoznik is the owner of was created to provide a haven for up and coming Mixed Martial Artists to share their stories and their careers with the fans; Supporting ALL fighters on the rise in a not-for-profit community.
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