It’s with heavy hearts that we look back on this force of nature known to many as Kimbo Slice. He was a controversial guy, but anyone that knew him always had good things to say about him, even before he passed away. Kimbo’s career trajectory was completely unique to him- he blazed his own path because there weren’t really any footsteps for him to follow. In the process, he not only won the hearts of fight fans the world over, but he became a household name and carved out a legendary career for himself.
Kimbo Slice lived the American Dream. When you think of “The American Dream”, you might picture a someone who grows up on a farm, ends up getting a job for one of the major automobile companies, works hard for 45 years, raises a family, retires with a great pension, then moves to Florida to live out their days. But there are many versions of the American Dream. Kimbo went from rags to riches, but never forgot where he came from. From fighting at a young age to protect a friend of his, to fighting on the biggest stages in the world, Kimbo always did his best. He wasn’t just fighting for the sake of fighting, he was fighting to earn a better life for himself, his friends, and his family. That’s my definition of a warrior.
Kimbo wasn’t the most technical fighter, but he always went out there to put on a great show for the fans, and put himself on the line in the process. His life was over much too soon, but at least he had a chance to find success doing what he loved. That’s the biggest takeaway here. If you want something, go get it, don’t let anybody stop you. Even if you don’t want to be a fighter, you can absolutely learn a thing or two from Kimbo Slice.
15. The Origin Of The Name Kimbo Slice
Most people know him as Kimbo Slice, but those close to him know him as Kevin Ferguson. Kimbo is a nickname that he had for most of his life, and the Slice part came around later.
Kimbo’s first taped fight that made the rounds online was against a guy named Big D, and Kimbo landed a shot that gave D a big, nasty cut by his eye. It was almost like he sliced him, which led to people on the internet calling him “Slice.” Put it all together and that’s the origin of the name Kimbo Slice, according to numerous sources online.
This is why in professional fights you’ll see the fighter’s corner men rubbing Vaseline on the fighter’s face. It doesn’t make the punches or elbows hurt any less, but it stops them from ripping open the skin quite as easily. If a fighter’s face gets ripped open and blood gets in their eyes, the referee or the cage side doctor will often stop the fight. But when you’re just fighting in the streets, all of that goes right out the window.
14. His First Fight Was At 13
Reportedly, Kimbo Slice‘s first-ever fight took place when he was only thirteen years old. He wasn’t out there trying to hurt anybody like some kids that run around starting fights with strangers at a young age in the streets, but instead he was defending one of his childhood friends from the aforementioned type of person. One of Kimbo’s friends was being targeted by bullies who were putting him in danger, and Slice came to his defense like any great friend should, but a surprisingly low amount actually do. Keep in mind that he didn’t have any fighting experience at this point.
This speaks to the layers of Kimbo’s personality. Looking at him, many people think he’s just this mean, mugging, thuggish guy who would go around looking for trouble, but to the contrary, anyone who knew Kimbo said he just had a complete heart of gold Flashback to when he first appeared on the Ultimate Fighter, during the first workout before teams had even been assigned, he was pushing everyone to keep going and to train harder. These were people we could eventually be competing against, but he took on the role of motivator. This was when most people got a glimpse at the real Kimbo Slice.
13. He Became Famous For Street Fighting Videos
People who were first introduced to Kimbo while he fought on national television for Bellator might not realize the legend behind where he came from. Kimbo didn’t rise up like most fighters. This might seem like common knowledge, but not everyone first saw Kimbo when his fight videos were posted online. He used to brawl in backyards, parking lots, and anywhere else he could find a fight.
Unlike a lot of street fighting videos today, he still treated martial arts with respect. There weren’t cheap shots, or continuing to pummel an opponent who was already knocked out, or any of that type of thing that you’ll notice all the time if you watch any amount of street fight videos online. In fact, there’s a moment in his first taped fight where the opponent asks for a second to calibrate, and Kimbo relents and gives the guy a minute. It’s rare to see that even in professional fights, because most people don’t want to give their opponent any kind of advantage, and would usually jump in and capitalize. People like to act like these are just barbaric street fights, but there’s actually still a lot of respect for the sport involved.
12. He Had Fought In Many Top MMA Promotions
Kimbo’s popularity from his fight videos definitely helped him to get a foot in the door, but regardless of how he did it – he still fought for some of the top mixed martial arts promotions in the world. His first four professional MMA fights took place in a newer promotion called EliteXC, which ultimately went under, partly because they were paying their fighters a lot more money than the industry average and partly because they invested a ton in Kimbo Slice who ended up getting knocked out very quickly in his second, and final, fight for the organization. Nonetheless, EliteXC was putting on some big fights at the time and definitely have their place in the MMA history books. Other notable names from EliteXC included Bigfoot Silva, Nick Diaz, Kyle Noke, and plenty more.
After his time in EXC, Kimbo found his way over to the UFC where he fought on their reality show The Ultimate Fighter, where he picked up an exhibition win and loss, and then fought on his first and only UFC PayPerView at UFC 113.
After 5 years outside of the cage, and a few of them spent boxing, Kimbo would end his career with the Bellator promotion.
11. He Had An Undefeated Pro Boxing Record
Everyone knows Kimbo for his street fights and MMA career, but not everybody realizes that when he took a break from MMA, he was actively still competing in the world of boxing. If we’re being totally honest, it was probably more of a cash grab from the promoters who wanted to capitalize on his fame, rather than the most competitive boxing matches, but none the less Kimbo was kicking butt and taking names.
Kimbo Slice’s strongest asset in his fights was his striking, and boxing in particular. Despite working with legendary MMA fighter Bas Rutten, known for his kicks, Kimbo never really threw a lot of kicks in his fights, because that would set him up to be taken down by his opponent. Kimbo liked to keep the fights standing, where he excelled, thanks to his boxing chops.
Slice had 7 professional boxing matches and never lost a single one of them. These boxing bouts took place between 2011 and 2013, which was the time in between Kimbo’s tenure in the UFC and Bellator. Boxing and Muay Thai fights make a lot of sense for guys who don’t like to get taken down, especially if they aren’t being put in there with elite opponents.
10. He Was One Of The Most Popular Fighters In The World
Before there were WorldStar videos and tons of street fighting videos all over YouTube, Kimbo was blazing trails online. The internet was a very different place back then. There wasn’t a Facebook or even a MySpace- there was barely a Google, for that matter.
Kimbo drew millions of fans to watch him fight. Even though his bout with Dada 5000 wasn’t the greatest match of all time by any stretch of the imagination, it drew some of the biggest viewership that Bellator has ever received. Bellator has taken a lot of heat for putting on these “freakshow fights”, but they know what they’re doing. Having guys like Kimbo, Ken Shamrock, and Royce Gracie on their cards to draw in fans, and then stacking the rest of the card with their up-and-coming talent is a great way to build a name for younger fighters while also bringing in the viewership that’s necessary to remain on prime time television. People that criticize Bellator for some of their weirder matchmaking need to look at the bigger picture. It is not easy to build an organization when most of the biggest names are working for the UFC already, so Bellator has to be scrappy.
9. His Son Won His First Fight
Kevin Ferguson Jr. is one of Kimbo’s kids and is following in his father’s footsteps. If there’s anyone who can guide you through the rough terrain of the fight game, it’s Kimbo. There are a lot of ups and downs in the world of professional martial arts, a lot of things you’ve got to look out for, a lot of bad temptations. Kimbo was probably familiar with a lot of them, so hopefully his son can avoid many of the common pitfalls of pro fighters.
“Baby Slice” won his first fight last March via knockout. This 23-year-old shows a lot of promise in the fight game, and has already gotten a better introduction to prize fighting than his father had, which was probably a huge source of motivation for Kimbo in the first place – to provide a better life to his offspring.
Kevin Ferguson Jr. has been quoted as saying that it took him a while to understand the sacrifices that his father made in order to fight professionally, but now he understands them. We’ll be looking forward to watching Baby Slice develop as a fighter, and hopefully we’ll see him competing in the large organizations some day soon.
8. Kimbo Made Millions As a Fighter
Kimbo is the ultimate rags to riches story that many people dream of and aspire to. It’s one thing to invent an app or something and get rich, but Kimbo literally clawed, scratched, and fought his way to the top. He didn’t come from a wealthy family, in fact Kimbo was homeless at one point. They say that a parent’s biggest dream is just to give their own children a better life than they had growing up, and in that sense Kimbo Slice was alive to see his dreams come true.
It didn’t come without a price, though. He put his body through hell- sometimes these guys are too tough for their own good, but he did it for a reason and his motivations were even stronger than his biceps.
Kimbo was a family man; he had six kids with his lady and he wanted a better life for them than he had when he was younger. The sad irony is that he was able to work and earn enough that they don’t have to worry, but the price may have been his life. We all trade something in order to make a living, whether it’s our time, our health, or other sacrifices.
7. There’s A Fighter Nicknamed “The Kimbo Killer”
Seth Petruzelli is an American MMA fighter who fought Kimbo Slice as a replacement in 2008 when Ken Shamrock couldn’t make it to the fight. Kimbo and Shamrock ended up fighting years later in a controversial Bellator bout, and we have to wonder how things would have been different if Shamrock had been able to compete in their first scheduled fight and if Kimbo would have won. Instead, things went a little bit differently.
Kimbo hype was in full force, and the promoters brought in Seth to stand and trade punches with Kimbo and to put on an exciting show. Seth said they strongly hinted that they didn’t want him to try to take Kimbo down. Seth did not oblige their wishes, and ended up scoring a 14-second KO of Kimbo, earning him the nickname “The Kimbo Killer.” Seth has asked fans to stop calling him this name, in light of Kimbo’s passing.
He later clarified his comments after the president of the organization denied that they had tried to influence the outcome of the fight, saying that by offering knockout bonuses, etc., he interpreted it as the promotion wanting him to stand and trade, which he had communicated poorly previously.
6. Kimbo’s Cousin Was Also A Fighter
Kimbo’s cousin, Dr. Rhadi Bullard Ferguson, is also an accomplished MMA fighter. Although he hasn’t fought nearly as many times as Kimbo, he still competed in one of the top organizations at the time in Strikeforce. Strikeforce was a huge threat to the UFC, and many of their fighters went on to become UFC champions after the promotions merged.
Dr. Rhadi Ferguson isn’t just a fighter, he’s also a scholar and a coach. He’s coached many skilled fighters, and has black belts in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He currently offers life-coaching and business mentorship programs.
The world of Judo is a tight-knit community, and most high-level competitors will know one another from various tournaments and events over the years. Pictured above is Dr. Bullard standing next to Ronda Rousey, perhaps the most famous judoka of all time. Chances are you can’t name the lady who beat Ronda in the Olympics, but you definitely know who Ronda Rousey is.
They’re a family of fighters, from Kimbo, his son, and Dr. Bullard. There’s a certain mentality that breeds professional fighters, and it’s why combat sports often seems to be a family affair, whether you’re looking at the Mayweathers, the Diaz Brothers, or countless other examples.
5. He Made The Preseason Miami Dolphins Squad
Along with his undefeated boxing career and unique MMA career, Kimbo Slice almost made it into the NFL. The year was 1997, and Slice tried out for the Miami Dolphins. He made it to the team’s practice squad, but was cut before the season began. Nonetheless, that’s a solid accomplishment when you consider how competitive a sport pro football is, and how the allure of an NFL contract attracts many top athletes.
After his NFL dreams didn’t come to fruition, Kimbo worked various jobs and did his thing until he gained notoriety in the sport that we all know him from, which is mixed martial arts (or, really, just fighting at the time).
Could you imagine being in the NFL, and lining up against Kimbo Slice? Talk about pure intimidation. What Kimbo lacked in overall athleticism, he made up for in heart, work ethic, and just being an all-around positive influence on those around him. He would be the guy in the locker room after a losing half that got everyone fired up to get back on the field and the guy in the gym that always pushed you to the extra mile.
4. Kimbo Went To University On An Athletic Scholarship
Kimbo studied criminal justice in college, at both Bethune-Cookman University and the University of Miami. He didn’t end up completing university, but he did put in a year and half to focus on his studies before trying out for the NFL and ultimately becoming a household name for his fighting career.
In his 42 years on this planet, Kimbo did a lot of different things. He lived an interesting, exciting, and cool life. He went to school and realized it wasn’t the direction he wanted to go so instead of dredging through two and a half more years or more, he moved on to other things; a tough decision that many people regret not making, as their degrees collect dust on the shelf.
Scholarly pursuits aren’t the first thing that comes to think when you think of professional fighters, but it’s always a smart idea for fighters to have a backup plan once their combat careers come to an end.
3. He Worked As A Bouncer
Before gaining fame for his street fights and professional fighting career, Kimbo Slice was a bouncer in various nightclubs, and ultimately found a job in the adult industry. He’s the last guy you would want to mess with at a bar, so it’s no wonder that he was recruited from his bouncer job to work security on adult film sets (as well as become a thumbnail cropper for an adult website). Even if you didn’t know he was a fighter, you certainly wouldn’t want to mess with Kimbo at the club.
Slice’s manager was an owner of an adult website, that posted one of his earlier videos and got a lot of attention. At least up until his signing in Bellator, Kimbo would work at the office of the adult site every single day, doing various hands-off types of tasks, including networking and helping with security concerns. Along with his off-screen work, Kimbo even made a couple of (fully-clothed) cameo appearances in several films, where we could be seen chilling in the background. There’s undoubtedly a few people out there who were watching the movies, only to be taken aback like “Hey, wait a second, isn’t that Kimbo Slice?!”
2. He Beat Some Very Notable Names Of Early MMA
Inside the cage, Kimbo is no joke. The sport of MMA has evolved a lot in the past 15-20 years. The earlier guys wouldn’t stand a chance against today’s top fighters, but that’s just the nature of the beast with any pro sport. During his career, Kimbo managed to collect wins over some very big names of early MMA, which is still a very noteworthy accomplishment, even if those guys couldn’t hang in today’s world.
Kimbo has a win over UFC title contender Tank Abbott, a victory against James Thompson, he defeated former UFC champion Ken Shamrock, and more. Ken Shamrock was the UFC Superfight Champion, a now-defunct belt that represented the winner of an open- weight tournament, before the UFC even had weight classes. Kimbo’s single win in the UFC came against Houston Alexander, but he’s beaten other fighters who have competed in the UFC at one point or another throughout their careers.
When you look at where he came from, and how far he made it, Kimbo’s career is inspirational. It’s not like he has fought a murderer’s row of elite fighters in their prime, but Kimbo has still put together some solid performances against totally legitimate fighters.
1. His Exciting Style And Willingness To Brawl Made Him Famous
There is a reason that Kimbo would get the nod to headline big MMA events instead of more talented or accomplished fighters. Let’s be real, he wasn’t the most technical fighter, he didn’t have the greatest stamina, he never won any championship belts, but Kimbo knew how to put on a show and how to get people interested in whatever he was doing. He built a fanbase for himself from scratch, before there was even a proven blueprint for becoming famous on the internet. He teamed up with the right people to earn worldwide exposure. Kimbo also had incredible heart, and it showed every time he stepped into the cage.
Whenever you were about to watch a Kimbo fight, you knew you were going to see something memorable. You didn’t want to miss it because everybody was going to be talking about it the next day. You didn’t even want to blink because it could be over at any moment.
It has been reported that Kimbo was waiting on a heart transplant before he passed away, and that heart failure was the cause of death. He probably shouldn’t have been cleared to fight at all with this medical condition.
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