On Tuesday, Japanese MMA and kickboxing star, Norifumi Kid Yamamoto died at the age of 41, his gym Crazy Bee has confirmed.
Just three weeks ago Yamamoto announced on Instagram that he was battling cancer. He was subsequently hospitalized and was receiving medical treatment in Guam at the time of his death.
5,611 Likes, 804 Comments – KRAZYBEE (@krazybee_official) on Instagram: “KID KID(416)918…”
His gym, Krazy Bee, announced his death on their social media channels along with a small statement requesting for privacy.
To everyone who supported Yamamoto Kid Tokunaga Yamamoto KID Tokuhiki (41 years and 6 months of age) passed away today on September 18th, the statement read.
To everyone who showed their support for him, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of the fans. In addition, please refrain from interviewing the Yamamoto family, family members, friends etc, so that we can grieve.
KID Yamamoto highlights and tribute. RIP. I do not own any of the footage, I just edited it.
Yamamoto was a Japanese mixed martial artist and kickboxer who competed in the bantamweight division of the UFC. He quickly gained popularity in the Shooto organization due to his aggressive, well-rounded style and controversial persona. He moved on to K-1 Hero’s, where he became the K-1 Hero’s 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament Champion in December 2005 after defeating Genki Sudo via a controversial TKO due to punches.
Yamamoto came from a wrestling family. His father Ikuei Yamamoto represented Japan at the 1972 Olympic games in Munich and his sisters Miyu and Seiko both won world championships in freestyle wrestling. Kid received his education in the United States and wrestled at Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Arizona, capturing three state championships (with a third-place finish as a freshman).
Yamamoto competed in the Bantamweight division of the UFC, most memorably fighting former pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson in February 2011. He was one of Asias biggest MMA stars, fighting for the Shooto, K-1 (kickboxing) and DREAM promotions. Yamamotos greatest success came in 2005 when he knocked out Royler Gracie en route to becoming the K-1 HERO’s 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament champion.
Yamamoto was receiving treatment at a hospital in Guam prior to his death, which was first reported by his gym, Krazy Bee. He is survived by two sons and a daughter and left a legacy for the smaller weight classes that reverberated worldwide from his native Japan.