Viral Internet's Street Fighter Kimbo Slice Dies Aged 42

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

If you don’t know the name, fierce face or even more terrifying body (that chest hair looks like it could cause serious damage), you clearly weren't spending enough time online in the mid 'Noughties. Internet legend and eventual MMA star Kimbo Slice (real name: Kevin Ferguson) has passed away at the age of 42, leaving a mix of sadness and awe behind him. In an age where viral notoriety can be bought, Slice's backyard punch-ups, distributed in low-res shaky-cam over the web's earliest video hosting sites, made him the internet's own brutal Rocky, a violent urban myth for forums and message boards.

The burly street brawler was not a pleasure to watch. A few seconds of his scrap with “Big D” Byrd (below, lots of violence and blood - YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED) tells you all you need to know about his style. The opposite of graceful would be quite kind.

What he was, though, was ferocious, mysterious and also bloody funny. Kimbo Slice could scare the shit out of you through a computer screen like few men could. But who was Kimbo Slice really, and what’s the deal with that nickname? You’d never say it to his face, but that hair too. Did he spend all of his time driving around in a van, looking for hard men to batter in back gardens?

Once a bodyguard for porn company Reality Kings, Slice was an immensely popular mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, whose victory over James Thompson in 2008 was the most-watched fight in the history of mixed martial arts with 7.28 million viewers. The two had been set for a rematch at London’s O2 Arena on July 16th.

Described as a “gentle giant” away from the ring -- and certain streets and basements -- Slice was certainly no angel. He tested positive for Nandrolone earlier this year, rendering his previous victories (including a legendary battle against Dhafir Harris) no-contests.

As Gerald puts it, the interesting thing about Kimbo Slice was that his videos were the web at their least sanitised, but still easily accessible -- you weren't having to go onto the Dark Web to find Kimbo Slice clips, and he eventually became a legit sporting celebrity for the online generation as a result. Before his life story was a Google search away, Slice's fights, context-free for anyone outside of his Miami underground fight scene, were brutally enigmatic, wincingly shared. 30 seconds and a hundred punches into a clip, Slice would bloody an opponent and disappear into his van, darkened windows driving away to his next bout, his next viral hit.

Kimbo, thanks for all of the wasted hours. It was well worth it. [BBC]