Fear not. Kevin Ferguson Jr, also known as ‘Baby Slice’, best known as the son of Kimbo, has time on his side. Plenty of it. At 25, he has time his father, an underground YouTube phenomenon turned mixed martial artist and boxer, was without.
It’s why, despite losing his professional MMA debut last November at Bellator 165, he’s taking a philosophical approach to all things fighting. Baby Slice, you see, knows all about the ups and downs of his profession. He’s aware you can be on top and feared one moment – labelled anything from a ‘beast’ to a ‘monster’ – and then just as quickly lose a fight, hit rock bottom and find yourself exposed as a ‘fraud’. Baby Slice knows all this because he has seen it happen not to him but the man who paved the way, the man he called Dad.
“I’ve been around it my whole life what with my dad fighting,” he said today in London ahead of his second pro fight at Bellator 179. “I was walking out with him and walking back with him. I was ringside when he was fighting. I experienced it all. I knew then I wanted to do what he was doing. Obviously, I didn’t understand the hard work and dedication it would take, but I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I was willing and ready to sacrifice.”
At first, Kimbo Slice read from the same script as countless other famous fighters, whether boxers or mixed martial arts. He told his son much of the reason why he fought professionally was so he, his son, didn’t have to. His son, of course, couldn’t comprehend such an idea. To him, Baby Slice, nothing appealed quite like carrying on his father’s legacy and doing the very thing that defined him and illuminated the Slice surname.
Kimbo, somewhat reluctantly, issued the green light.
“He tried stopping me a bunch of times,” said Baby Slice, “just to see if I really wanted to do it. He wanted to see what I would do if he said no. Was I still going to try and pursue it or was I just going to give up? I think he needed the answer to that question. I was like your typical kid really. The more he said no, the more I wanted to do it. I wanted to prove a point.”
In truth, fighting, the idea of one-on-one combat, was by now a part of Baby Slice’s DNA to such a degree it would have been peculiar for him to be shielded from something he’d followed and gravitated towards for much of his childhood. If ever a young man was born to fight, it was Kevin Ferguson Jr.
“My first fight happened when I was helping this girl who was being picked on by these five guys,” he recalled. “We were only in elementary school, maybe fourth or fifth grade, and I just started fighting all of them. My brother was there watching it the whole time and I didn’t think twice about standing up for this girl. It felt good. I just knew in my mind these guys couldn’t touch me. I had to just land that one punch. I had to do the right thing. I beat them all. They all quit. I punched and didn’t stop punching. They did.”
Kimbo Slice tragically passed away last June, leaving behind a legacy and a fighting son. So large was his shadow, so great was his presence, it will take something special for Baby Slice, the next generation, to escape it and forge his own path in mixed martial arts.
“I definitely embrace it because that’s what is bringing all the eyes and all the attention to me now,” he said. “It’s all because of what he did in the past; the path he paved. I just embrace and continue to do what I love.
“I started young; I started ten years younger than when he did. I guess I now get to show the world what would have happened if he’d started at a younger age and really trained the way he wanted to. I can show you all where he would have been.”