Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson, maybe the biggest YouTube sensation of all-time, tragically passed away at the young age of 42. Kimbo became famous from his YouTube videos of backyard bare-knuckle fighting. His fame grew rapidly with video after video of brutal fights that featured this hairy 6’2″ monster black man with a big straggly beard and gold teeth. Watching one video was like having one potato chip, you just need to have more. I have probably seen all of Kimbo’s street fights ten times each, at least, and still give it an “OOHHHH” when he knocks the dude out. He would turn those videos into a professional MMA career and became successful and famous in the roller-coaster which was his life.
Kevin Ferguson was born in Nassau, Bahamas and moved to Florida where he grew up. Kimbo excelled in football as the middle linebacker for Miami Palmetto High School. In 199,2 Hurricane Andrew swept south Florida and destroyed Fegurson’s home. He shortly attended the University of Miami on a football scholarship, but flunked out after a year and a half. Kimbo tried out for the Miami Dolphins and made it onto the preseason squad before getting cut. He worked as a bouncer at night clubs and strip clubs before he started fighting in the streets for money in 2003.
Kimbo’s street fights were legendary. He was just straight wrecking dudes in backyards. He got the reputation as the baddest dude around, so everyone wanted to come and challenge the backyard champ. He knocked out everyone with ease, and completely mashed this one guys eye, in the process. His eye looked like someone just tortured him in Hostel.
His only loss in the street fight game was to a Boston cop named Sean Gannon, which would boost the popularity of both men into the MMA spotlight.
Kimbo got his first MMA fight in Cage Fury Fighting Championships, where he fought former WBO Heavyweight Champ and Olympic gold-medalist Ray Mercer. Kimbo defeated Mercer by guillotine choke in the first round. He then went on to fight in Elite XC and knocked out MMA legend Tank Abbot in just 43 seconds. He suffered his first defeat to Seth Petruzelli after getting knocked out in just 14 seconds into the fight.
After years of UFC fighters and Dana White talking shit about Kimbo, Dana brought him in as a contestant on the Ultimate Fighter reality show to give him the shot to become a UFC fighter. He lost in his first fight on the house to the eventual winner of the show and long time UFC veteran Roy Nelson. Kimbo did eventually get his shot in the UFC and won his first fight by unanimous decision over Houston Alexander. He then lost his next fight to Matt Mitrione and was cut, but he gained the respect of many UFC fighters along the way.
The best thing for Kimbo was being able to be on The Ultimate Fighter. The show put him on television once a week inside of a house with 15 other heavyweight fighters, and he got to show the world who he really was. All of the public had gotten to see Kimbo Slice, not Kevin Ferguson. Some may have thought he was a thug and a bad guy, but it turned out to be the opposite. The admiration shown to Kimbo from all of the fighters and coaches on the show speaks volumes to the type of person he was. Most fighters did not have respect or want to see Kimbo in the UFC. That all changed when they saw he was actually a humble man who was very grateful for the opportunity given to him, and he was trying to make the most of it. He even gained the respect of Dana White by the end of it.
He then went on to Bellator, where he had two forgettable fights. He won the first fight against MMA legend Ken Shamrock, where it seemed Kimbo was going to get chocked out, somehow he got out of it and knocked Ken out. He won the fight but in ugly fashion. The next fight is the fight that was all over the internet and is what I really hope Kimbo is not remembered for. This was the fight against DaDa 5000. The fight was the worst fight in the history of MMA and was disgraceful to the sport. Slice eventually won by TKO, but it was more like default, since neither fighter had anything left, and DaDa fell down first.
The love and admiration shown on Twitter and other variations of social media for Kimbo, I believe, speaks to the man he was. Every fighter out there who knew him was tweeting out their love and support. They were all saying he was a great and truly kind man. It was evident that the fighters in the Ultimate Fighter house were especially saddened by the news of his passing. He was a unique sports figure who we will never see the likes of again. He will always be remembered and stories of his fights will be passed down from generation to generation as the true “King of the Backyard” should be.
RIP Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson.