Japanese MMA Fighter Norifumi ‘Kid’ Yamamoto D‌i‌‌e‌s of Cancer at the Age of 41

Legendary Japanese Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto p‌as‌se‌d away on Tuesday while ‌ho‌spita‌lized and receiving treatment for cancer in Guam.

The 41-year-old legendary MMA fighter, whose fighting record stood at 18-6, first announced on his Instagram account in August that he was battling cancer, according to BBC Sports. Before his eventual debut in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in 2011, Yamamoto already made a name for himself in Japan’s Shooto and K-1 circuits.

Throughout his career, the 5-foot-3-inches, 141 pounds (63.9 kilograms) fighter fought under the lightweight division and sometimes in the featherweight division against opponents who were much taller than him, MMA Fighting reported.

Yamamoto, the youngest in a family of Japanese wrestlers, including two older sisters who both won several world championships, was sent to Arizona to attend high school and be trained under Townsend Saunders, an Olympic silver medalist in wrestling. He was sent there by his father, Ikuei Yamamoto, who represented Japan in the 1972 Olympics held in Munich, Germany.

However, he quit wresting for a brief period of time to study fighting under Enson Inoue, his sister’s husband who is a famous MMA star in japan.

His name first exploded after his match with Masato on Dec. 31, 2004.

Then in 2007, he announced that he would take an indefinite break from fighting to pursue wrestling after his win against Rani Yahya in Osaka, Japan. He competed to get in the 2008 Beijing Olympics but failed after dislocating his shoulder in the semi-finals against 2004 Athens Bronze Medalist Kenji Inoue.

Many of his fans, both avid watcher of his fights and professionals alike, immediately took to social media to express their sadness to the loss of one of this age’s legendary fighters after hearing the news.

Featured image via Instagram / kid_yamamoto

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