Our "Scamworld" series has shed some light on a number of internet-based con artists over the last year, mostly ones who try to sell get-rich-quick schemes. They don't just peddle Rush Limbaugh-endorsed business opportunities, or the kind of affiliate sales programs that bamboozle paraplegics out of life savings. Every walk of life has its fair share of people who affix Internet Marketing schemes onto seemingly legit business enterprises. Even the world of mixed martial arts training has its scammers.
Meet Lloyd Irvin.
He’s the king of Scamworld MMA. Since January, he’s taken a search engine optimization campaign — designed, with the help of some of the biggest names in Scamworld, to rope in new "MMA Millionaires" — and redirected it toward a new purpose: disassociating himself from rape charges.
The campaign began in January, when he purchased lloydirvinrape.com (which advertised his free women’s self defense class). Due to the negative publicity this move generated, he pulled the page and issued a public apology almost immediately. That particular URL is still inactive, but as MMA site Bloody Elbow reports, the SEO scheme itself continues.
Somewhere along the line, Irvin got mixed up with some of Scamworld's biggest names
Known internationally within the MMA community, Irvin is supposedly the first African American in the world to receive a 1st degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In nearly 20 years of competition, he’s won national judo prizes, competed for Brazilian team championships, and generally established a reputation as a heavyweight badass: with his bare hands, he supposedly disarmed and chased away two gunmen who attempted to rob his family’s home.
Irvin used that badass rep to build Team Lloyd Irvin, an MMA coaching school and affiliate program in Camp Springs, Maryland. Team Lloyd Irvin has helped to train a host of successful fighters over the years. As Irvin built that school, he also branched into Internet Marketing, associating himself with some of the biggest names in Scamworld. These include Ken McCarthy ("The System"), Dan Kennedy ("Think To Grow Rich"), and James Malinchak ("Millionaire Secrets Revealed").
Irvin used their tactics to turn Team Lloyd Irvin into a hybrid MMA / Internet Marketing organization. For example, his Mixed Martial Arts Millionaires training program claims that he can teach you to attract "50 to 100 new students per month" in the lucrative field of MMA training. According to one testimonial on the site, you "literally robbed yourself of well over $100,000 in the next year alone" if you missed this money-making seminar.
Irvin avoided a conviction in the 1989 rape case
On New Year’s Eve, two of Irvin’s male students were charged with raping one of his female students. Irvin wasn’t involved in the incident but the charges made headlines in local media. The MMA community took notice. By January 10, Brent Brookhouse at Bloody Elbow (part of SB Nation, itself a sister site of The Verge) was publicly asking questions about a 1989 case involving a 21-year-old Lloyd Irvin charged with participating in a brutal gang rape.
Irvin avoided a conviction in the 1989 case. A local news article at the time said "Irvin was saved by the fact that the jury believed he was impotent when it was his turn" to rape the victim; Irvin testified that he "wanted to have intercourse with her but couldn’t."
Irvin purchased lloydirvinrape.com on January 10.
After Brookhouse reported the URL purchase, Irvin issued a public apology.
"Why did I buy and put up the website url that I purchased and put rape prevention seminar information on it shortly after all the news broke regarding New Years Eve?" he asked rhetorically in a MixedMartialArts.com post. His answer, verbatim:
For this I can do nothing other than apologize 100%. I was wrong. The timing was horrible and I completely dropped the ball. The long and short of it was this... The reason I purchased the url was singular. I didn’t like the tone and tenor of things online (but still felt I could not speak publicly about anything) and I simply didn’t want someone else in control of the name my Son and I share in association with the current or 1989 situation. Beyond that my intention was honorable but the execution and timing were awful As everyone can see, the moment I realized this,, it was taken down...
February was particularly bad for Irvin. Schools that once praised him and his MMA Millionaires scheme cut ties with the man and his organizations. Well known MMA fighters accused Irvin of participating in "cultish" behavior. More groups severed ties, and then a student mass exodus ensued after one of his former female students said Irvin would "instruct her to do sexually inappropriate things with him .... [re-affirming] his instructions with things like ‘I thought you said you wanted to be a world champion, and you said you would do anything I tell you to do without hesitation.’"
Jordon Schultz, one of Irvin’s "internet assassins," also jumped ship, revealing what anyone in Scamworld might’ve already gleaned: the decision to train with Irvin was, for some, just as much about learning scammy Internet Marketing strategies as it was martial arts training.
Schools that once praised Irvin cut ties with him and his organizations
Last month, Irvin’s bad publicity declined in frequency, but his SEO campaign picked up. Today on Bloody Elbow, Brookhouse reports that Irvin continued with his Lloyd Irvin Rape domain purchases as late as March 10, two months after he acknowledged that doing so was "wrong." These include lloydirvinrape.org (as well as the corresponding .net and .us domains) and a host of other URLs that could be captured by a "Lloyd Irvin Rape" web search.
In addition, he’s now trying to redefine himself as a champion of women’s self-defense. Irvin is hosting free rape prevention seminars and pushing them with the same SEO tactics in an attempt to game web search results. This is in addition to the usual random press releases, odd blogs, SEO-optimized paragraph-free word vomit like "Muay Thai Shin Guards Lloyd Irvin often get tired...."
Irvin’s desperately trying every trick he’s learned from his Internet Marketing mentors. But one wonders how he can hold onto his MMA marketing organization when a rape case involving three of his students is only getting started, and his past just won’t seem to escape him. As a former Irvin affiliate stated: "When you take the time to think about it, this culture defeats the purpose of having a business network in the first place. How can you freely share ideas and opinions when humiliation tactics and fear are used to suppress any notion of discontent?"
If Irvin intends to keep fighting for his reputation, he’ll need to answer that question and many, many more.