It’s safe to say that everyone, with the exception of PETA apparently, loved Steve Irwin. The Crocodile Hunter’s expertise, unbridled enthusiasm, absolute fearlessness, and good-natured presenting style made him a delight to watch; his evident Australian accent didn’t hurt either.
In 2006, Irwin’s life was tragically cut short when he was pierced in the heart by a stingray barb while filming a documentary called, appropriately, “Ocean’s Deadliest.” Steve Irwin’s own fascination and respect inspired millions to love animals in his lifetime, but his inspiration wasn’t limited to only nature as it turns out…
Recently, Google commemorated the Aussie legend with a doodle and his fans joyously celebrated his life and his work. Despite PETA disgustingly trying to capitalize on Irwin’s death to further their cause, Irwin was a passionate conservationist and believed in promoting environmentalism by sharing his excitement about the natural world rather than preaching to people.
Steve Irwin’s nature series, “The Crocodile Hunter” debuted on Australian TV in 1996. It soon made its way to the U.S., UK, and over 130 other countries, becoming an instant classic. In its heyday, nearly 500 million people were tuning in to see Steve wrangle all manner of dangerous, fascinating animals…
One Wild Family
Steve Irwin was born in Melbourne, Australia to Lyn and Bob Irwin. Irwin’s father was a self-professed wildlife expert with a keen interest in herpetology, his mother was a wildlife rehabilitator. Together, the two started the small Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, so you could easily say that their passion for animals directly influenced his own.
Irwin was involved in the park from a young age. He helped feed the animals, care for them, and worked maintenance. His parents were so impressed that they gave him a 12-foot scrub python for his sixth birthday. Three years later, he began handling crocodiles and even wrestled his first one that very year. From that moment on, he was hooked…
As he grew, he continued to work with animals and even began volunteering for Queensland’s East Coast Crocodile Management program. His tenure there saw him capturing and presumably wrestling over 100 crocodiles. In 1991, he took over management of the park and christened it Australia Zoo.
In recent months, many people have found themselves reminded of the enthusiastic Crocodile Hunter. Steve Irwin has returned to the forefront of our minds. One of the people who remember him most is his friend and former bodyguard, Kyle Noke, a current fighter in the UFC and a longtime friend of the reptile wrangler himself…
For those who don’t know, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is an American mixed martial arts company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Interest in this sport has been on an upward swing in the past few years and those fighters who had just gotten into the sport because they enjoyed the competition, have now become celebrities in their own right.
Kyle Noke was Steve Irwin’s bodyguard for four years. Some of you might be asking, why does someone who can wrestle 500-pound crocodiles need a bodyguard? The answer is simple; celebrity is dangerous. Rabid fans can be just as dangerous as even the deadliest snake and Irwin’s high-level of celebrity made him just as much of a target as Brad Pitt in the late 90s…
Do What You Love
Anyone who watched Irwin on television could see that he had a passion for wildlife, but that was not all he was passionate about. He could channel that passion into any part of his life, be it his children, his marriage, his business, or helping others to reach their own potential by doing what they love.
Because of the fact that he needed to be in pretty close proximity to the Croc Hunter, Noke and Irwin grew very close. Irwin, who grappled with giant reptiles for a living, was an enormous fan of ultimate fighting and mixed martial arts in general. The two friends had bonded closely on that and it’s safe to say that if it weren’t for Irwin, Noke might never have joined UFC in earnest…
Dreams Come True
Noke had spoken about Irwin’s influence on his career in the past, of course. In a 2010 interview, he explained how Irwin had paid for his flights to the USA. ”He’s one of the reasons why I’m here where I am now,” Noke said. The 30-year-old added that he is indebted to Irwin for making his dream come true.
Irwin also sponsored Noke by paying for his first flights to the United States to compete. “…He really pushed me to follow my career and follow my passion.” Noke added. Not only did Irwin inspire and bankroll him, but he also helped Noke in the training room by sparring with him from time to time…
Helpful in Many Ways
It seems the skills one needs to wrestle a croc are roughly the same as those needed to wrestle a bloke. ”He used to help us prepare for fights,” Noke explained. ”He had such an eye for detail through what he had been doing for so many years.” There is even video out there of Irwin in the training room.
Noke has been fighting in UFC for the better part of a decade and has a record of 18 wins and four losses. He is currently preparing to return to his home country for the Sydney leg of his tour. He is set to take on American Chris Camozzi in front of his Australian fans and has been preparing for this match for some time…
”I’m a patriotic Australian, so to get that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me,” he said in an interview with Grappling Insider. Noke, George Sotiropoulos, James Te Huna, and Anthony Perosh, all of them Australians, will be fighting on their home soil in the upcoming event. Considering how much he had done to help, it makes sense that he’d be remembering Irwin at this particular junction.
While Australia prepares for the UFC fights, they continue to remember the legacy left behind by Steve Irwin. Despite what PETA may think, Irwin was a staunch environmentalist who dedicated his life to not only protecting wildlife but also to teach the world to appreciate the beauty and respect the dangers the animals themselves posed…
Steve and Terri
Steve Irwin and his wife Terri were Australia’s true defenders, an environmental duo that dedicated their lives and the lives of their children to protecting wildlife. The two had met while she was visiting wildlife rehabilitation facilities in Australia. Their first meeting was nothing less than love at first sight.
The Crocodile Hunter
“I thought there was no one like this anywhere in the world,” Terri explained. “He sounded like an environmental Tarzan, a larger-than-life superhero guy.” They were engaged four months later and married soon after. The very first episode of the Crocodile Hunter, which was taken while they trapped crocodiles together on their honeymoon, became the first episode of the show…
Love and Marriage
The two built a life together and eventually had two children: a daughter, Bindi Sue Irwin, and a son, Robert Clarence Irwin. Like their father before them, Bindi and Robert grew up working at Australia zoo and learning about animals first hand. The Irwin kids inherited their parents’ passion for wildlife and their father’s boundless enthusiasm for the work.
Like him or hate him, it’s hard to argue that he was anything less than a “Wildlife Warrior,” something that he considered himself to be. His surviving friends and family continue to fight the good fight, whether in the crocodile pit or the UFC stadium. See the response to PETA’s accusations against Irwin in the video below…