Professional mixed martial artist Kimbo Slice, a man who went from backyard fighting sensation to MMA ratings king, died Monday at the age of 42, sources confirmed with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani. The cause of death was unclear. Slice’s gym American Top Team tweeted Monday night that Slice had died. Bellator president Scott Coker followed soon after with a statement.
“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.”
“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 first rose to fame through videos of street fights posted online. He later turned that fame into a professional mixed marital arts fighting career.
Slice, whose real name was Kevin Ferguson, was admitted earlier Monday to a Florida hospital, according to multiple media reports.
A Coral Springs, Fla. Police sergeant told The Associated Press earlier Monday after Slice had been hospitalized that no foul play was suspected. Officers had been dispatched to his home in anticipation of a crowd gathering there.
Slice, born Kevin Ferguson, rose to fame in the aughts as a viral street-fight star. He made his MMA debut in 2007, and won his UFC debut in 2009. He continued to fight on and off up until this year, when he knocked out Dada 5000 in February; last year, our Greg Howard wrote about him extensively in a profile of Ken Shamrock, whom he fought in a heavily-promoted Bellator bout.
We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.