Kimo Leopoldo Dead at 41
The New York Daily News and other sources are reporting that Kimo Leopoldo, an star in the UFC when the company was in its infancy, has died of a heart attack. He was 41.
Leopoldo stood out in the early days of the UFC due to his unique look and passion play theatrics, which included carrying a large wooden cross with him to the Octagon. Leopoldo made his debut at UFC 3, losing via submission to early MMA pioneer Royce Gracie. In the days before weight classes and the Jersey Unified Rules, Kimo was a freestyle fighter and gatekeeper whose lack of specialty in any area was overcome by his strange charisma and ability to draw crowd interest.
Kimo left the UFC in the late 90s in the midst of the changing nature of the UFC (with the addition of weight classes and adoption of the Unified Rules) and allegations of steroid use. He made a failed comeback attempt in 2004, notching a win over Tank Abbott before being submitted by Ken Shamrock. After the fight he was given a six-month ban by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for testing positive for the steroid Stanozolol and was subsequently dropped by the UFC. He only fought sporadically in the years following, and his continued steroid use led to another suspension just before he was scheduled to fight Bas Rutten in July 2006.
He had made news in the past year with an unsuccessful PR campaign to become a member of the California State Athletic Commission. In a strange twist, was arrested shortly thereafter for drug possession and impersonating a police officer.