Kimbo Slice, the former internet fighting sensation who went on to become a mixed martial arts star, died Monday night.
Reports began filtering out Monday evening that Slice had been rushed to a Florida hospital with an unknown ailment, and by late Monday, there were unconfirmed reports that the 42-year-old had died. The Los Angeles Times confirmed Slice’s passing late Monday night.
A Bellator rep tells me reports of Kimbo Slice's death are true. RIP
— Lance Pugmire (@pugboxing) June 7, 2016
“We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family,” Bellator MMA official Scott 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. 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, whose real name was Kevin Ferguson, made himself into an internet star in 2003 by destroying opponents in backyard fights that were uploaded to YouTube. He racked up millions of views with violent fights like this. And this.
After making a name for himself online, Slice competed in minor-league MMA organizations like Elite XC and Bellator MMA while making a few appearances in UFC, the biggest and most-popular organization in the sport.
One of his final fights came against faded MMA star Ken Shamrock, who seemed to be in control early in their 2015 match before Slice made a strong comeback to cement the final big-name victory of his career.
We battled inside the cage, warrior vs warrior. Outside the cage, we have loved ones. REST IN PEACE KIMBO SLICE. May God Watch Over You.
— KEN SHAMROCK (@ShamrockKen) June 7, 2016
And while Slice was never a great fighter—at least on a professional level—that doesn’t mean he didn’t bring plenty of value to the sport.
Sad to hear about the passing of Kimbo Slice. Guys like him and Butterbean were never contenders but they made people smile, and that's rare
— Daniel Roberts (@DRobertsIMG) June 7, 2016