Kimbo Slice died Monday evening at a Florida hospital at age 42. The death of the MMA fighter, whose real name was Kevin Ferguson, was first reported by the club with which he trained, American Top Team, and confirmed by Bellator president Scott Coker.
“We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family,” Coker said in a statement. “One of the most popular MMA fighters ever, Kimbo was 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 continued. “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.”
Slice was born in the Bahamas but grew up in Florida and became a star linebacker at a Miami high school. He first gained fame for his legendary success as a street brawler, taking on all comers — for a price — in unsanctioned, relatively informal fights that went viral as online videos.
It didn’t hurt that Slice had a cool moniker — he’d merged his childhood nickname with an appellation given him by Internet fans — and an unusual, menacing look, with a bald head, bushy beard (before they became popular) and burly physique. He made his MMA debut in 2007 with an easy win, taking out former heavyweight boxing champion Ray Mercer.
However, Slice’s limitations in the MMA world quickly became apparent even though he was able to catch on with industry giant UFC. His stint with that company was brief, as he won a fight in 2009, lost one in 2010 and then turned his attention to boxing; Slice wouldn’t compete again in MMA until signing with Bellator in 2015.
Slice’s most recent fight was a desultory win over another former street brawler, Dhaffir “Dada 5000” Harris, a result that was overturned when he tested positive for a steroid. Both men appeared out of shape and Harris was carried off on a stretcher.
On Monday, Slice was taken to a hospital near his home in Coral Springs, Fla. The cause of his death is as yet unknown.