It’s a tearful day in combat sports. We lost my biggest inspiration in the sport and life, in Muhammad Ali. He’s on the background of my website you’re looking at. He and the Malcolm X banner were the first things I put on this website like 5 years ago. Two of my biggest heroes and I actually got to witness him do some awesome philanthropy work. What an honor.
We also lost the back yard brawlin king that transitioned to professional boxing and mixed martial arts. I have seen some disturbing statements on social media. Knocking this man for his success. Sad to say professionals in MMA and fans alike are bashing Kimbo. Why? Because he wasn’t your run of the mill star? Say what you want about him in the ring or cage. He was indeed an icon. In part because of YouTube in it’s early days and social media as well. Mostly he was known for explosive KOs or being on the receiving end of a KO or finish. As a boxer he was successful. I always felt that was more his lane anyway. Sadly heart failure took him to the afterlife, and that may alarm some. How does an athlete die from an enlarged heart?
An enlarged heart is something I know all too well about and it is what is being pointed to as Kimbo’s cause of death. It is often called athletes heart. It is brought on by natural causes as well as additional stress on the heart. Your heart is a muscle just like your biceps, if you work it hard it will grow. Your heart however is very intricate in comparison as it regulates blood flow through your body and only has so much room to work in your chest. Without it we cease to exist whereas you could live without an arm. If your heart grows too much inside your chest cavity you will ultimately die.
I went through a similar issue in my left ventricle some years ago. It was not scary at the time as I was consumed with playing college ball. Everything I did was to be on that field. Until I failed my first physical however. I was so filled with anger and rage. “How dare this nurse fail me and send me to a cardiologist!? I’m fine!” I thought, the mind of a teenager who thought he was above his own health. I later found out this could have been a serious problem. I was diagnosed with muscular hypertrophy in my left ventricle and never saw the collegiate football field and that was that. What I did not know at the time was that a nurse with a puzzled look on her face after hearing my irregular heartbeat probably saved my life.
This was very apparent years later when Arkansas Razorback tight end, Garrett Uekman, died of what was believed to be cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart. One minute he was playing video games, the next he had passed away. “That could have been me,” I thought to myself one day with friends. I had long been removed from organized sports. So long I had forgotten that day my life took a major turn. One nurse’s bad feeling was the difference between me and Uekman, at least that’s how I perceived it. How many physicals had I passed? How many doctors had shrugged off my irregular heartbeat due to my heart murmur? How many times had I ignored odd feelings during hard workout sessions? Weird shortness of breath? How many times did I tempt the reaper? It really made me get on the ball with my health and by the grace of God I don’t have an enlarged ventricle anymore.
Shortly after the original diagnosis I lost a lot of weight, I stopped killing myself in the gym and I relaxed. Eventually my doctor told me at my yearly checkup that I was “As healthy as a horse,” and “You could play football again.” My response was um no I won’t do that haha. I felt I was too far removed from that sport but I was boxing again maybe I could do that seriously now. That was something else I had given up ever being able to do considering my heart. His response was “Well, I’d like to see you lose a little more weight but you’re healthy.” Lose more weight? Well dang doc, thanks? I remember thinking with a smile. I had already dropped 30 pounds back then. Looking back he was right another 40 pounds later I feel excellent. Better than I ever have in my life.
Sidenote, people are citing roids already as a cause of death to Kimbo. I remember when Kimbo couldn’t afford roids and he was still a beast so forgive me if I ignore that until I hear facts.
Just reflecting on life today and thought I’d share my experience with you all. It might help some kid some where. R.I.P. to our fallen legends