Not long after it broke, the story began to unravel. Shortly after 2:00 PM Tuesday, Kimo’s attorney reported that the fighter had been located and was alive and well.
The false death rumors are the latest twist to the utterly bizarre life of Kimo Leopoldo. A native of Munich, Germany, Kimo–he claimed later in his life that he had legally changed his name to simply ‘Kimo’–was the UFCs first over the top personality back when the promotions events were still in the single digits. He was also one of the sports first freestyle fighters in an era when most competitors were specialists in one martial arts discipline.
Kimo compiled a solid record in the sports early years. By the end of 1997, he had compiled a 6-2-1 record with his only losses coming to Gracie and another UFC Hall of Famer, Ken Shamrock. He also earned a draw against a third UFC Hall of Famer, wrestling specialist Dan Severn. His career would tread water from that point, however, as a result of increasingly better fighters entering the sport and the collateral damage of Kimos own often questionable lifestyle choices. His last fight was in 2006, a loss to veteran Wes Sims.
To early UFC fans, Kimo became known as much for his flamboyant personality as for his toughness as a competitor. He was a devout Christian, and sported many religious tattoos–most famously a large ‘Jesus’ inscription across his stomach. In an era characterized by low key ring walks, Kimo caused a stir when he entered the octagon at UFC 3 bearing a life sized wooden cross.
Kimo has battled drug and alcohol addiction throughout his life, and in recent years has reportedly became addicted to meth. Hes also tested positive for steroids at a couple of points during his career. In one of his more recent run ins with the law, he was found to be in possession of marijuana and subsequently arrested.