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Kimo Leopoldo is still alive

Reports of his demise originated on MMA websites that incorrectly reported the 41-year-old died from complications of a heart attack late Monday night.

July 22, 2009|Mark Medina

Former mixed martial arts fighter Kim "Kimo" Leopoldo woke up Tuesday afternoon not knowing friends and fans were deeply concerned about his welfare.

His manager Ron Kort, of Santa Ana-based New Era Fighting, broke the news to him: "According to the media, you're dead," Kort recalled saying.

Reports of Leopoldo's demise originated from MMA websites that incorrectly reported the 41-year-old died from complications of a heart attack late Monday night, Kort said.

Earlier that day, Leopoldo was sentenced to 10 days of community service and participation in a drug diversion program stemming from a February arrest in Tustin when he was found wearing a Long Beach police officer jump suit and in possession of marijuana.

Numerous media reports, including ones from TMZ, the New York Daily News, Orange County Register, USA Today and the Huffington Post, also reported his death.

"When I saw the sites, it scared me," Leopoldo said.

"I wondered, are they predicting the future or am I cursed?"

It was neither, though it still made for a memorable day.

The Orange County Sheriff's coroner's office received more than 200 phone calls about Leopoldo's purported death starting as early as 7 a.m., spokesman Jim Amormino said. After trying to confirm the reports through local hospitals, county health officials and the fire department, Amormino fielded inquiries until Leopoldo held a news conference at 5 p.m. outside the sheriff's office in Santa Ana.

Before the erroneous reports of his death, Leopoldo was best known for his MMA debut at UFC 3 in 1994, where he fought and lost to Royce Gracie. He ended his career in October 2006, and had been publicly linked to performance-enhancing drugs and banned stimulants because of failed drug tests.

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mark.medina@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesmedina

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