Those without at least a passing interest in the sport of MMA probably aren’t going to know who Kimbo Slice is. In a lot of ways he compares to 70’s icon Mr. T, who burst to fame initially on a TV Contest show, and parlayed that into a part on a TV Series and numerous appearances in Movies. Slice got his fame in illicit backyard bare knuckle fights broadcast over the Internet. Caught in poverty after a hurricane destroyed his home in Florida, Slice did what he had to to survive. His fierce demeanor was a fan favorite, which – more than athletic ability, propelled him into the world of MMA by fan demand. In the UFC, he was hopelessly over-matched by guys who had spent a lifetime in the sport, and had been trained by the very best. Despite that, he sold tickets. Slice’s MMA fame never converted into media deals. The fans loved Slice because of his personality.
Professional mixed martial artist Kimbo Slice died Monday at age 42, Bellator MMA announced.
“We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family,” Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement, calling Slice “a charismatic, larger-than-life personality that transcended the sport.”
“Outside of the cage he was a friendly, gentle giant and a devoted family man,” Coker said. “His loss leaves us all with extremely heavy hearts, and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ferguson family and all of Kimbo’s friends, fans, and teammates.”
There was no word on the cause of Slice’s death.
Slice had been hospitalized earlier Monday in Margate, Florida, for undisclosed reasons, according to Coral Springs police, who had been dispatched to his residence to prevent a potential gathering outside. They said no foul play was suspected.
“We lost our brother today,” Slice’s longtime manager, Mike Imber, said in a text message to The Associated Press.
Slice, birth name Kevin Ferguson, was a former backyard brawler and internet sensation. A heavyweight at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, he had a 5-2 professional record with four TKOs.
He was signed to Bellator MMA and scheduled to headline Bellator 158 on July 16 in London against James Thompson.
He last fought at Bellator 149 on Feb. 19 in Houston. He defeated Dhafir Harris, aka Dada5000, in a three-round decision. The result was later changed to a no-contest by the Texas commission, after Slice tested positive for anabolic steroids and an elevated testosterone ratio.