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Japanese MMA star Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto dies at age 41

Yamamoto, one of the sport's most popular fighters in the mid-2000s, has died three weeks after announcing a battle with cancer.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2015 Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto of Japan walks to his corner after an illegal eye-poke in his bantamweight bout with Roman Salazar during the UFC 184 event at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Californi

Legendary Japanese MMA fighter Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto passed away on Tuesday at the age of 41.

Three weeks ago, on 21 August, Yamamoto had announced that he was battling with cancer. At the time of his death, he was hospitalised and receiving treatment in Guam.

His gym, Krazy Bee, announced his passing away on their social media, along with a small statement asking for privacy.

"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, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of the fans. In addition, please refrain from interviewing the Yamamoto family members and friends, so that we can grieve."

Kid forever

Born to a family of wrestlers, Yamamoto enjoyed huge popularity in his home country at the height of his MMA career.

He competed mostly as a lightweight and sometimes as a featherweight.

Yamamoto's MMA record stands at 18 wins, six loses and two no contests during a 14-year career including stints in UFC and the Japan-based K-1.

Back in 2006, he broke the MMA record for the fastest knockout when he defeated Kazuyuki Miyata in four seconds.

Due to his beaming and confident smile – a rarity in Japan where many fighters tend to display stoicism – he won thousands of fans around the Asian country.

Following the news of his death, called him "one of Japan’s greatest and most exciting mixed martial artists".


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