Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
Former MMA and Street Fighter
Currently Known For:
Former MMA and Street Fighter
If you remember the early days of the internet before YouTube, it was hard to find certain videos that you wanted to watch. That didn’t stop certain videos from going viral, though, and among them were videos of street fights that had very few rules and competitors that would hardly ever give up a fight. The king of the fighters in this genre during the early 2000s was Kimbo Slice, who parlayed his internet fame into a career of sanctioned fighting, acting and generally being considered one of the toughest men in the world.
Slice was born as Kevin Ferguson on February 8, 1974 in Nassau, Bahamas, though he didn’t spend much time there. Instead, Slice and his family moved to Florida, eventually ending up in Miami. Slice excelled in football, and eventually became a college player, starting with Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. He then ended up back home in Miami, playing briefly with the famous Hurricanes football team. Once he graduated in 1997, Slice had hopes of starting an NFL career, but wasn’t picked up by the local Miami Dolphins, forcing him to turn his attention elsewhere. Finding fame wouldn’t come easy, though.
Without football to turn to, Slice took on pretty much any job that he could. Using his size and toughness, Slice decided to first become a bouncer at a Miami club. Then, in an interesting turn, Slice started working as a bodyguard with an adult film company, also driving limousines as part of the gig. Unfortunately for Slice, he’d fall on some tough times around this point as he was caught carrying a weapon that landed him in jail. Upon his release, Slice became interested in taking up fighting.
Looking back at that time, Slice said that he never received formal training, and that he didn’t think “things would have worked out,” if he went into traditional boxing. “Instead I found myself trying to find ways to make money instead of being a drug dealer or anything and I found that I was able to make money street fighting,” he said.
There weren’t any rings, massive crowds or a lot of money during his early fights, as they took place in unsanctioned areas, often on the streets. Using his partnership with platforms that focused on films that had more mature content, Slice’s street fights started to make the rounds on the internet. Suddenly, people were telling each other “you have to see this,” showing videos of Slice taking down opponents of all sizes. Within a couple of years, Slice became a big name on the internet, making him one of the first people to cash in on viral fame.
Going the more lucrative, safer and legal route, Slice wanted to fine tune his fighting to get into the growing sport of mixed martial arts. It was around this time that the Ultimate Fighting Championship was really starting to take off, and Slice knew that he could get there eventually with some training. First, he had to start in other leagues that started with EliteXC. Slice won his first three matches in 2007 and 2008 before dropping his final match in October 2008 to Seth Petruzelli.
Slice wanted to join the UFC after EliteXC had come to an end, but wasn’t handed a position. To get in, Slice was told that he had to earn his way into the league, and entered with other hopefuls into the reality competition, “The Ultimate Fighter”. Though he didn’t win his first unofficial match, Slice still made it to the season finale where he took on Houston Alexander. Slice ended up winning by unanimous decision, earning himself a match at the UFC 113 pay per view in Canada.
Slice was scheduled to take on Matt Mitrione, but Slice lost in the second round in what would be his only UFC pay per view. Afterward, Slice turned his attention to professional boxing, making his debut the next year in 2011. Slice had seven fights between 2011 and 2013, winning all of them, and all but one came via a knockout win. Slice returned to the MMA octagon in 2015 after signing with Bellator, defeating Ken Shamrock in 2015 and then having a no-contest with Dada 5000 that he originally one, but was overturned due to drug testing.
It seemed that Slice’s career was still going to continue with Bellator heading into 2016, with a match scheduled for July of that year against James Thompson at a pay per view event in London. Unfortunately, tragedy would strike a month before the scheduled match as he was complaining of having pains, and went to a hospital in Coral Springs, Florida. Slice was found to both have liver and heart issues, and on the same day he was admitted to the hospital, he passed away officially of heart failure.
Slice was just 42 years old at the time of his passing, leaving many that watched him throughout his career shocked. He’ll always be remembered as one of the baddest guys on the planet, having lost just twice in his mixed martial arts career with no losses in professional boxing. To think it all started with street fighting on the internet shows you that Slice was in the right place at the right time, and made the most of his opportunity.