Mixed martial artist and boxer Kimbo Slice has died at age 42. His cause of death has not been confirmed, but it is believed the professional fighter may have died of a heart failure.
TMZ reports the star was admitted to the hospital in the early June 6 for undisclosed reasons. His condition was listed as “dire” at the time. Then, his training partner Tyler Cook revealed the warrior’s “heart quit” in a Facebook comment.
Mike Imber, Slice’s longtime manager, confirmed his passing to the Associated Press saying, “We lost our brother today.”
Bellator MMA, the promotional company the athlete was signed to, also announced his death Monday. President Scott Chocker issued a statement on his passing.
“We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family. 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 – born Kevin Ferguson – was due to headline Bellator 158 July 16 in London. He last fought at Bellator 149 on Feb. 19 in Houston. Kimbo won against Dada5000, but the result was overturned when it was discovered the Bahamas-born star tested positive for steroids, ESPN reports.
Slice was previously signed to the UFC. He starred on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show and eventually fought for the UFC twice. Kimbo had a 1-1 record before leaving the world of MMA to take on wrestling.
Today, the UFC issued a statement on his passing.
UFC is saddened to learn of the passing of Kevin Ferguson, known to fans around the world as Kimbo Slice.
Slice will forever be a part of UFC history as a contestant on season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter in 2009,” and for having fought twice inside the Octagon at The Ultimate Fighter Finale and UFC 113. He carried himself as a true professional during his time in our organization.
While he will never be forgotten for his fighting style and transcendent image, Slice will also be remembered for his warm personality and commitment to his family and friends.
UFC offers its sincere condolences to Slice’s family, friends and teammates at American Top Team.
Overcoming homelessness after dropping out of Bethune-Cookman University, the South Florida-raised pugilist found success with viral street-fighting videos that led to fame.
He continued to train out of the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida until his death.
The ATT Family and South Florida community lost a legend today. RIP Kimbo. pic.twitter.com/sjs8ctyJMd
— American Top Team (@AmericanTopTeam) June 7, 2016
The athlete was not always welcomed with open arms.
When MMA attempted to go mainstream, the community shut Kimbo out. At the time of the 2008 match up between Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock – whom the late fighter ultimately did not fight – UFC president Dana White went on record saying that while Shamrock was “way past his prime… he still might beat Kimbo. Kimbo sucks.”
Yet his popularity led to his third professional fight airing on CBS against James Thompson that same year. It was the first MMA fight aired on a prime-time network television. He defeated Thompson in a knockout in the fourth round. The pair was due to face off again next month.
Kimbo is survived by his partner, Antoinette Ray and his six children, one of whom – Kevin Ferguson Jr. – made his MMA debut in March.