Basically introduced to the internet the same way most were at the time, Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr. still cherishes the wild ride his father took us all on, both on YouTube and in the world of MMA.
“It’s funny because the first fight I saw was the Big D fight,” Ferguson says looking back on his introduction to his father’s fights on the internet. “It was me and my family who watched that and it was pretty cool. I couldn’t stop watching it; it was all I was watching at one point.”
Growing up in a household where boxing took command on the television, it was very easy for Ferguson to adjust to seeing his dad fighting in backyards all over Miami.
In the early to mid-2000s, before YouTube ruled the internet, people couldn’t help but stumble across videos of the same man with heavy hands and a thick beard making opponent after opponent quit. Slice’s reign as the underground king lasted for a handful of years before he made his official entrance into MMA.
Even before his dad had fought at CFFC or joined The Ultimate Fighter cast, Kevin Ferguson Jr. was already planning his future as Baby Slice.
“All I used to watch was fights growing up anyways, like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones, so when I saw my dad doing it I was amazed,” Ferguson said. “Right then I knew that that’s what I wanted to do.”
Almost instantly his dad’s videos went from local to worldwide. The people on the Fergusons’ block knew who he was, but the day the school found out, “Baby Slice” was almost as popular as his dad in his own circles.
Fame came in, money came in and the fights would get harder. Life was about to change for the Ferguson household. How fast was the question.
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“I don’t want to say it wasn’t a big deal because it was a big deal, but I only saw the ‘Kimbo’ side of him when we were out in public,” Ferguson recalls. “When we were out at a store or we’re at a restaurant, people were amazed, or we went to Universal Studios and people are running up wanting to take pictures.”
As “Baby Slice” and anybody close to the internet mega-star would have predicted, Kimbo would never turn into “Kimbo” behind closed doors. “The toughest guy at the BBQ” remained the same man and the same father that he always was.
“We worked harder for bigger presents in a way,” Ferguson explained. “He wasn’t just going to give us anything, so we always worked pretty hard for what we wanted. I guess the presents got bigger so that was a change, but the discipline became more. We were more disciplined too. Before, he was real lenient with us and let us do a lot and get away with more. When he became ‘Kimbo famous’ he was on it. We had to earn everything from that point.”
The hard work wasn’t just thrust upon Baby Slice and his siblings. The more famous Kimbo got, the more people were gunning for him. The more people who began gunning for him, the harder he had to work to avoid being clowned by an industry of trained fighters who wanted nothing more than to make a name for themselves by taking him out.
Adjusting to the process like a consummate student and consummate professional, Kimbo would teach Ferguson life lessons from a place of experience few ever had to put themselves into.
“He always told me the hard part isn’t getting there,” Ferguson said. “With our name we’re going to get there. The hard part is maintaining it, keeping it up. The bigger you get, the more of a target that’s going to be on your back. The more famous you get, the more money you get, so you have to work harder to maintain it.”
Of course, the fast-track to attention came with its price. Ferguson Jr. was no longer Kevin Ferguson Jr. He became Baby Slice as he had always wanted. But was it sooner than he was ready?
Of course he was ready.
“He knew what came with him being successful was also going to come with us,” Ferguson said. “We were also getting famous. Even when I got tackled, somebody would get so excited like, ‘I just tackled Kimbo’s son!’ So we had to work even harder.”
Now 29 years old, Ferguson avoids any “last days of…” content. When your dad was the baddest man on the internet for most of your formative years, why would you seek the heartbreak?
The harshest question Ferguson has to face is will “Kimbo Slice” withstand the test of time or will he become a trivia question years down the road? With no titles to his name in MMA, it’s unfortunately possible that his name may become hipster knowledge in a short amount of time.
As harsh as that reality is, it’s nothing Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr. hasn’t already prepared himself for.
“It’s kind of tricky because the newer generation doesn’t really know about Kimbo,” Ferguson said. “If you ask a kid who’s like 13 or 14 right now, they wouldn’t know. Back then, a 13 or 14-year-old would know who Kimbo Slice is. I think it’s kind of on me to keep the legacy alive and make it bigger and keep that Team Kimbo legacy going. I feel like the more I fight, the more people see me, the more people will say, ‘that’s Kimbo’s son!’ But the new generation will end being more of my fans than my dad’s fans.”
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