Kimbo Slice: The Personification of the American Dream
By James Lee
As we approach the twelfth anniversary of Kimbo Slice’s first professional mixed martial arts loss, it is imperative to cherish the late combat legend, whose legacy is thankfully set in stone forever.
The outcome of that October 4th night ended in Slice being beaten by the unknown Seth Petruzelli in just fourteen seconds. Controversy accompanied the event with suggestions of match-fixing that concluded in EliteXC’s abolition.
Yet, it must be maintained that Kimbo’s lasting legacy is not limited to that one night or promotional consignment. His career is instead personified as the legendary American dream.
Traditional martial artists could disagree with that statement as his initial street fighting did not represent pure martial arts. However, the attention he put on the sport for a decade cannot go unnoticed, and he is a significant reason behind the recent mainstream recognition.
Kimbo Slice was one of the very first few examples of an internet sensation. Everybody had observed his street fighting videos on YouTube. That consequently provided him with the status to pursue a mixed martial arts career that fans were instantly invested in.
Despite that, Kimbo obviously did not represent the average fighter. He instead constituted a street fighter who fought for money as a way of providing for his family.
Slice brought hundreds of thousands of eyes when he made the transition to licensed combat. An accumulation of successes over Tank Abbott and James Thompson during his time in EliteXC saw him become one of the most prominent figures in mixed martial arts at the time with limited experience.
His EliteXC stint persuaded UFC President Dana White to put him on The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 reality show. The season had some of the largest ratings in the history of the programme, and although he was beaten by Roy Nelson in his preliminary fight, he established himself and went on to compete for the premier promotion twice afterwards.
He proceeded to try a professional boxing career, in which he won all seven of his bouts before returning back to mixed martial arts to fight for Bellator.
Two consecutive victories over Ken Shamrock and rival Dada 5000 concluded his fighting career before he passed away in June 2016.
Kimbo’s legacy can be seen by the dramatic impact his death had on the martial arts world. The messages of admiration that have followed attests how inspirational he was to those fanatic about combat.
Not just related to sport though, everybody can be inspired by a man climbing to where he did with few opportunities or help.
Ultimately, his story is that of a modern American dream. From rags to riches. From fighting on the streets to fighting in front of millions. A man who achieved a life of comfort for his children through his unorthodox, but auspicious actions.
So as the anniversary of one of his notable career highlights draws closer, it is essential to recollect on his fighting bequest.
Moreover, with a biographical film reportedly in the making about his life, Kimbo Slice shall never be forgotten in the fighting community.
The representation of a rare combat sports success story that will forever have a part in growing mixed martial arts in the mainstream.