Kimo Leopoldo's camp considering legal action against perpetrator of fake death report
A day after proving wrong reports of his death, MMA veteran Kim "Kimo" Leopoldo and his representatives are considering legal action against the person who first posted the false news, the fighter's manager today told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio).
On Tuesday a member of a popular online MMA forum made a post in which he stated the 41-year-old Leopoldo had died due to complications from a heart attack while in Costa Rica.
Numerous MMA blogs and mainstream outlets such as TMZ and the New York Daily News issued reports with the bogus information before Leopoldo appeared later in the day at a press conference at the Orange County Sheriff's Department in California to debunk the rumors.
Brandt Stebbins, Leopoldo's manager, denied that anyone associated with the fighter was part of the initial report.
"Plain and simple, you can go to mixedmartialarts.com and see all the posts," Stebbins said. "You can see the posts from the original people and the original guy who started it. That gentleman was banned (from the site). We're trying to summons his name so we can sue him. We're not taking this lightly."
Stebbins did not clarify under what pretense the forum member would be sued, though the camp would likely need to prove he or she knowingly posted incorrect information.
Despite the fact that it took nearly a full day to track down Leopoldo – who said he was sleeping and awoke to nearly 100 voicemails – Stebbins is adamant that the situation wasn't a marketing ploy or gimmick to get "Kimo's" name back in the media.
"We have nothing to hide," Stebbins said. "We can point anyone to where this started.
"Those posts did not come from anyone in our camp."
Once Stebbins heard the rumors of his client's death, he said he and other people close to Leopoldo couldn't initially track him down. They called the sheriff's department, fire department, coroner and other authorities trying to glean any bit of information about Leopoldo's whereabouts.
That's why Stebbins said he was hesitant to publicly confirm that Leopoldo, who was actually home asleep in California, was alive and well in the few hours before the press conference was held.
"I didn't get to see Kimo face to face till 3:30 or 4 (p.m. PT)," Stebbins said. "I didn't want to say, 'Yes, Kimo is alive,' until I physically saw Kimo face to face. ... It's impossible to know who to trust. ... Personally, I wasn't going to say he was alive until I saw him in person and knew for myself."
Ultimately, the announcement was made Tuesday evening at a press conference at the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Stebbins said the department fielded approximately 200 calls from media members and fans, and they wanted official word to come from the department to assure everyone that Leopoldo was alive.
Leopoldo ultimately addressed the media for approximately five minutes and said he was as surprised as anyone to hear the reports.
"[Kimo] said the first thing he did was stand up and look in the mirror to make sure he was really alive," Stebbins said. "His poor son was calling from Hawaii and was ready to get on a plane. He was totally distraught.
"That's the real problem with stuff like this."
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