Arena: Remembering Kimbo Slice

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MMA fighter Kevin Ferguson, known as Kimbo Slice, passed away on June 6, 2016 at the age of 42. 

Slice, a Bahamian native, moved to the United States as a young child and grew up in a single parent household with his two brothers. At 6-foot-2, 234 pounds, Slice had an athletic build and developed a passion for sports from a young age. He quickly excelled on the football field and in turn, received an athletic scholarship to play football at the University of Miami. Slice had a brief run with the Miami Dolphins during pre-season training in 1997, but left his football career behind after being cut from the team. He rose to fame in 2003 as a prominent street fighter. Slice became a YouTube sensation as unregulated street fights brought a new intensity to the sport and a crippling danger that left the public on the edge of their seats.

To some viewers, he was an intimidating guy. Why would he promote the graphic battles that propelled violent antics? Some people would presume that he was a troubled man, a threatening presence. Those people did not know about Slice’s past and his desire to help a struggling family. Slice came from humble beginnings and as a child of three, living with a single mother, his childhood posed many obstacles. As a teenager, his house in Florida was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew, leaving him homeless and forcing him to live in his car. He earned thousands fighting on the streets and people grew to love him for his tough demeanor and charismatic persona. YouTube brawls had no limitations and became almost movie-like as Slice became the star of a long winded horror series. In his first fight, he left a gash on his opponent’s right eye, which translated into his infamous nickname “Slice”, as an additional part of his initial nickname, Kimbo.

As a regular guy, an untrained fighter, Slice could instill fear in just about anyone-- until he started MMA, that is. 

As Slice continued to make a splash in the world of street fighting, he drew attention from professional fighters and began his MMA career in 2005. The difficult transition made people skeptical about his adjustment to new standards and techniques. With his adaptability in question, people were not sure if he could be a successful MMA contender. UFC president Dana White said that he would not last two minutes in the ring.

Slice made his debut as an MMA fighter in a match against former Olympic gold-medalist boxer Ray Mercer in 2007. He defeated Mercer after a minute in the first round and later that year, he continued to gain credibility with a win against Bo Cantrell with a first round victory in just 19 seconds. He ended his MMA career with 5 wins, including 3 knockouts. He spent a brief time in the world of UFC fighting, but expressed a new found interest in boxing shortly after. He took the boxing world by storm in his very first fight in 2011. He fought James Wade and won the fight with a KO in 10 seconds of the first round. Slice knew how to silence the doubters and make a name for himself by his actions.

He will be known as a completely self made man that earned the respect of fighters and non fighters alike. The news of his death left people shocked because of his young age and engaging personality. Many people reflected on the type of charisma that made Slice such a sensation. "We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family,” said Bellator president Scott Coker. “One of the most popular MMA fighters ever, Kimbo was a charismatic, larger-than-life personality that transcended the sport."