Mixed martial artist and UFC fighter Kimbo Slice has died at the age of 42, multiple sources have confirmed.
Slice, who was born in the Bahamas as Kevin Ferguson and rose to fame through street fighting videos on YouTube, was hospitalized in Coral Springs, Florida on Monday for undisclosed reasons.
His cause of death has not been released, although police said there was no foul play involved.
Police appeared at Slice’s South Florida home on Monday to talk to his family members while the MMA fighter was in the hospital, TMZ reported.
Sergeant Carla Kmiotek said there were no police or EMS calls made before Slice was hospitalized, CNN reported.
Bellator president Scott Coker confirmed Slice’s death in a statement that read: ‘We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice.’
‘One of the most popular MMA fighters ever, Kimbo was a charismatic, larger-than-life personality that transcended the sport,’ Coker said.
‘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.’
American Top Team, the gym where Slice trained, also released a statement on Twitter saying they ‘lost a legend’.
Slice was a middle linebacker as Miami’s Palmetto High School, but Hurricane Andrew tore through his house in 1992 and his life took a turn for the worse.
Slice flunked out of college and lived out of his car, working as a strip club bouncer, a limo driver and a bodyguard for a porn company before he found fame, according to one ESPN profile in 2009.
Despite his financial hardship, Slice told ESPN: ‘To hurt someone vulnerable, I just couldn’t do it like that.
‘You want to be a good father and productive citizen. I could have been on the cover of the newspaper as a killer.
‘I had to fight with myself not to hurt people, some serious mental wars. But who would have raised my boys? They would have grown up knowing their dad died another violent death.
‘They would have been angry, and now, instead of one person dying a violent death, you’ve got two other little protégés who would have grown up just as violent and vicious, causing even more harm to people.’
Slice became an internet sensation after he filmed his street fights, often held outside in parking lots or backyards, and clocked in millions of views on YouTube.
In one particular video, he approached a group of strangers who agreed to let Slice punch them in exchange for $50.
Slice was dubbed the ‘The King of the Web Brawlers’ after Rolling Stone ran a feature on him in 2006, and he made his transition to professional mixed martial arts in 2008.
He signed with Elite XC and UFC, and then briefly pursued professional boxing before returning to MMA with Bellator.
His fights against James Thompson, whom he was scheduled to fight again on July 16 in London’s O2 arena, and Seth Pedruzelli were some of the highest rated MMA broadcasts on CBS.
In his last match on February 19, Slice defeated Dhafir ‘Dada 5000’ Harris, who suffered cardiac arrest and renal failure during the fight.
But Slice’s triumph was ruled a no-contest after he tested positive for anabolic steroids with an elevated testosterone level.
Many questioned his return to fighting scheduled in London just five months after he was found using steroids.
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation said Slice was fined $2,500 and a one-year license revocation, although the ban only applied within Texas, ESPN reported.
Slice leaves behind his long-time girlfriend Antionette Ray and was known to be a devoted father to his six children.
He hoped to serve as a role model for his kids, and told the Orlando Sentinel: ‘My kids have seen me train… they see the loyalty, dedication and commitment – the things I hope they will use one day in their future endeavors. I hope I’m planting a seed in them.’
Slice’s son Kevin Ferguson Jr, known as ‘Baby Slice’, is following in his father’s footsteps after making his amateur MMA debut in March 2016.
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