Kimbo Slice, who parlayed viral videos of him pummeling opponents in illicit bareknuckle fights into a career in mixed martial arts, has died at 42. He had been hospitalized in Margate, Florida June 6. No cause of death has been revealed.
Born Kevin Ferguson, Slice had been homeless for a spell and earned money as a strip club bouncer and bareknuckle fighter before signing up as a UFC combatant. Bearded and hulking, he appeared on the reality show The Ultimate Fighter and was a key draw in the first MMA program to air on broadcast television, beating Englishman James Thompson in May 2008 on CBS.
Slice was to square off with Thompson July 16 at London’s O2 Arena.
Slice was represented by Bellator MMA, which he aligned with in 2015. President Scott Coker said in a statement:
“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.”
Coker called Slice “a friendly, gentle giant and a devoted family man” outside the octagon.