Professional mixed martial arts fighter Kimbo Slice died suddenly on Monday. He was 42.
Slice, whose birth name was Kevin Ferguson, had been hospitalized near his home in Coral Springs, Florida, earlier in the day for undisclosed reasons, ESPN reported.
Born in Nassau in the Bahamas, Slice was a former backyard brawler who went on to become an Internet sensation. He was signed to Bellator MMA at the time of his death and was scheduled to headline Bellator 158 on July 16 in London against James Thompson.
“We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family,” Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement released Monday night. “One of the most popular MMA fighters ever, Kimbo was a charismatic, larger-than-life personality that transcended the sport.”
“Outside of the cage he was a friendly, gentle giant and a devoted family man,” Coker continued. “His loss leaves us all with extremely heavy hearts, and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ferguson family and all of Kimbo’s friends, fans, and teammates.”
Slice first gained acclaim for his street fights, which were filmed and posted on YouTube in the early 2000s and transformed him into one of the world’s first online viral video stars. He parlayed that into becoming one of the biggest ratings draws in the history of mixed martial arts.
He last fought at Bellator 149 on Feb. 19 in Houston, Texas. Slice (5-2) defeated Dhafir Harris, a.k.a. Dada5000, in a three-round decision. The result was later changed to a no-contest by the Texas commission, after Slice tested positive for anabolic steroids and an elevated testosterone ratio.
Slice was also the subject of a 2015 documentary titled “Dawg Fight,” which is currently available on Netflix.
There is no word yet on the cause of death. Slice is survived his longtime girlfriend Antoinette Ray and six children.