The following is an open letter from Kimo Leopoldo that PRO MMA (promma.info) received Monday morning July 27, 2009. We are reprinting it unedited and in its entirety.
I’d like to thank all the members of the media, my fans, friends, and especially my family members with regards to their concern and support about me.
I went to sleep late Monday (July 20) and woke-up to my promoter, Ron Kort, shaking me sometime between 12-1 PM/PT on Tuesday, telling me that the media is going crazy over my death, and that he and others had been looking everywhere for me.
I had spent the night with a friend and my phone was turned off like it normally is overnight. I’m used to people spreading weird rumors about me, but I didn’t think this one was funny. So, I blew it off, but when Ron looked at me with that serious face of his, I knew this wasn’t a joke.
I got up and looked on my friend’s computer, read through some of the media reports, and couldn’t believe my eyes. From the time I went to sleep to the time I woke-up, the rumor of me dying had spread like wildfire.
All I had done was go to sleep. I kind of felt as important as Michael Jackson, considering the media hoopla. While reading articles, I had to stop and look in the mirror. The overwhelming power of the media almost felt like my death was being predicted.
I was a little taken back and, as I attempted to compose myself, Ron informed me that Brandt Stebbins (New Era Fighting’s Business Development Manager) all day had been dealing with consoling my family and friends over this issue.
Ron immediately got on the phone with members of the press and the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner’s office about getting a press release out immediately. As I was piecing the puzzle together, I had various friends yelling at me as if I set this up as a publicity stunt.
I woke-up to being told I was dead and getting yelled at. This wasn’t a fun wake-up. Before I go any further, I want to let everyone know that we are investigating this matter and have a good idea of how it originated, and that NONE of this came from me or anyone around me.
I am sorry to all who know me for your grief and am amazed to see that I can make front page news in the press for negative items but not for anything good I have done. The media has always been quick to jump on negative rumors about me without verifying the truth.
I consider myself one of the founding fathers of MMA and an important figure in this industry. I was in this sport before it was a sport.
I have seen the many ups-and-downs of this industry and have dedicated the last few years of my life to trying to making a difference by running for California State Athletic Commissioner, trying to get fighters paid what they are worth, and getting fighters more exposure even when they are not fighting.
Given my contributions, it is amazing to me that I can get this kind of press on negative items, yet, not on my accomplishments.
In the last few months I have been called a Meth addict in the media and now I am dead. Both items are obviously proven not to be true. The power of the media is strong and it is the responsibility of the media to verify the information they post; it isn’t about being the first one on the scene.
TMZ confirmed that I was dead. Well, that’s weird because they did that without a body or autopsy report. In my opinion, TMZ just became the next Inquirer. Why didn’t TMZ just confirm my body was abducted by Aliens?
No offense to TMZ or anyone else, but how about you guys in the media giving me a real chance at making a difference in this industry? Let’s try to use your power for some good. For example, I registered on the Bob Sapp www.FightEngine.com website. If I get enough hits, I will be able to fight whomever the fans want. No one will dictate who I fight except for you, the fans.
I will fight whomever you guys want, not what promoters want. You guys decide. I want my last fight to be a freak show of a fight. I want to go out the same way I came in.
I came in carrying the cross, but lost my path along the way, and didn’t want to be a hypocrite by carrying the cross if I wasn’t living that life style. I always believe that through Christ Jesus, all things are possible, and I believe Jesus Christ himself is my guiding angel with everything that has happened in my life.
I was pronounced dead and now I am resurrected. This is my second chance and I don’t want to let fans down. I am here to help train fighters for combat in the ring. I will train and walk fighters to the ring at any event.
I am here to help fighters get paid their worth, I am here to entertain my fans and the whole MMA community, win or lose, and I am here to help make this fun and enjoyable for everyone. If I hit a certain number of votes on www.FightEngine.com, I will be a main event fighter for one of their scouting events, and you will be the ones to vote about whom you want me to fight.
I would appreciate just as much attention as was given to me in these last few days on google.com, yahoo.com and other media sources to also occur on fightengine.com.
Show me you guys really believe that I am as exciting to watch fight as everyone tells me to my face and I promise to live the right life style, train hard, and walk to the ring in my last fight with the cross on my back and with a real aggressive fight for the fans to watch.
I’ve been known to head-butt guys in the back of the head, slap my opponent in the face, and even in Tank’s case, kiss my opponent on the cheek after I wipe the floor with them.
I am currently being approached to do cartoon voice-overs, interviews, and more. I am eager and happy to accommodate all of your requests. So, please, let’s try to keep this fun and entertaining but, most of all, truthful and positive.
Remember, it isn’t necessarily about being first in the media, rather, being accurate. I love my fans, family and even the media for all you have given me and will drive my focus on the positive, not the negative. Thank you all.