Sam ‘Hillbilly Hammer’ Shewmaker details journey from Gravois Mills to World Heavyweight Title fight

Mitch Prentice
Lake Sun Leader
Sam “Hillbilly Hammer” Shewmaker (right), a lake local from Gravois Mills,  lands a blow in his most recent Bare Knuckle fight.

A lot has changed for local legend Sam “Hillbilly Hammer” Shewmaker in the past nearly three years. Since competing in the first legally sanctioned bare knuckle fight in the United States in 131 years back on June 2, 2018, Shewmaker has continued to fight and stay victorious. This success has led to a major accomplishment for Shewmaker, as he will now be fighting for the World Heavyweight Title on May 21.

Hailing from Gravois Mills, Shewmaker has been a local favorite ever since making his fighting debut. In the years since his debut, he says it has certainly been an interesting ride. He says that he has been fortunate enough to be able to travel to many different areas of the world, from the Gulf Coast to Mexico. The prize pools for his fights started small and have gradually increased through bigger fights and sponsorships. To put it simply, Shewmaker is the real deal and is one of the faces of Bare Knuckle Fighting. 

After dozens of fights, Shewmaker says he still feels like he has much left in the tank. He and his wife discussed a timeline when he began his career and hoped that he would be able to go at least five years strong. Shewmaker says that he’s still confident in that timeline and could see himself taking it even further. 

“It’s an amazing organization. I’d like to be a part of it somehow through the rest of my life, possibly,” Shewmaker said.

In April, Shewmaker announced his biggest achievement yet in signing a promotional contract with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. He says the contract guarantees at least five fights, or two continued years of fighting. This is a big boon for fighters, as it guarantees work instead of having to wait for the next opportunity to pop up. 

For Shewmaker, this achievement and the many others before it were a result of hard work. He says that it’s an honor to be one of the early members of the organization and to have been a part of the first new set of sanctioned fights in 2018. 

Shewmaker says he still feels a ton of support from the lake community. He says that any time another fight is scheduled, he will have friends and family from back home reach out and wish him luck. Knowing that the lake area has his back has remained a major source of pride and motivation for him in the ring. 

On May 21, Shewmaker will be facing off against Joey Beltran for the World Heavyweight Title. Shewmaker has never sparred with Beltran, though he says he is familiar with his style and “feels great” about his chances to win. Even though this will be the biggest fight of Shewmaker’s career so far, he says he wants to stay calm and conserve his energy until he’s face-to-face with his opponent. 

The fight will take place in Miami. It will be viewable throughout pay-per-view or through the Bare Knuckle TV app.

Looking forward, Shewmaker says he has considered his options once his fighting days are past him. He says he has considered opening a gym to train, and would love to do so around the lake area. However, sanctioned bare knuckle fights are still illegal in Missouri, so he is working with local politicians to sponsor a bill to change things around. He says Representative Willard Haley is working with him on a proposed bill that they expect to make its way through the state in 2022.

For now, the goal is to focus on the next fight and continue to be a force within the Bare Knuckle Fighting community. 

“We never thought we’d make it this far, but it was always the dream. It’s such a blessing,” Shewmaker said.