Reporting Frank Vascellaro
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some of the most popular entertainers and celebrities in the world trust their safety and security to Minnesota man.
He’s a bodyguard to the stars and he operates an international training school right here in Minnesota
Elijah Shaw, owner and operator of Icon Protection, has acquired famous clients.
In a recent training drill, at an undisclosed location, Shaw runs through a scenario with those looking to take the step into this serious business of personal security.
The scenario: a woman held hostage. Her kidnappers are holding her somewhere inside a three-story building.
Chad Cox is in training and about to face his biggest challenge yet.
Shaw drills Cox and other trainees to deal with different threats and scenarios because doing things right means never being surprised.
“I think most people think of a bodyguard as this huge guy with muscles and the knuckles dragging. But I realized that it was more about protection and thinking of things in advance and anticipating those problems before they happen,” Shaw said.
In 18 years, he’s only had to pull his gun twice. Minimizing risk may be part of the reason so many stars seek him out.
Last July, Icon helped take care of security for Kim Kardashian while she was in Minnesota.
Shaw has also done personal security for Usher and traveled around the world with 50 Cent and Naomi Campbell … and the list goes on and on.
“My Minnesota connection was Prince. Through Prince, I met Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Through Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Usher had to come in and record for them and then met him and things went well,” said Shaw. “So, it’s relationship pieces like that that kind of continue on in our industry because the majority of how clients reach me now is word of mouth.”
Corporate clients and high net worth individuals make up the other customers. Shaw didn’t start with celebrities — he’s come a long, long way.
“I started at the bottom. I was at a nightclub. I was on bathroom detail,” he said.
But The Riveria Club in Chicago was owned by some Chicago Bulls. Shaw eventually protected some of the players, became head of club security, as he learned and perfected his craft.
The story is even more impressive when you realize Shaw grew up on the south side of Chicago in the notorious the Ida B. Wells housing project.
“I was two steps away from being a statistic. I could have went left when I went right,” he said.
He saw friends die there. He knew he needed to get out. It led Shaw to Minnesota.
“There’s a mentality to it, there’s peace to it, there’s nature, there’s trees, there’s lakes, there’s good people and, again, there’s a reality,” he said.
Reality for trainee Cox was facing the scenario and then graduating from Advanced Training Class.
“Really hard, really hands on, physically demanding and pretty much everything I was hoping it would be and a little more,” Cox said.
His team eventually found the woman and made the rescue. She was safe. It’s something Shaw trains them for, but hopes they never have to implement. Good bodyguards would never let their client get in that situation to begin with.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” Cox said.
The cost of Icon Protection training runs from $300 for a women’s self-defense class to $2500 for the 10-day advanced executive protection program. Graduates of that program are certified.
However, there is no governing body regulating the industry. Entry-level salaries can vary from about $45,000 to $85,000 a year. For more information about Icon, click on the link below.