Kid Yamamoto Dies At 41 Years Old

Less than a month after he announced his diagnosis, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto passed away on Tuesday at the age of 41.

On August 21st, the MMA star announced he had been diagnosed with Cancer, he was hospitalized in Guam when he passed.

While standing at only 5’3 and 141 pounds, the career lightweight/featherweight would compile international fame and a 17-1 record when he first retired in 2007.

Born into a family of amateur wrestlers, Yamamoto’s father Ikuei would participate in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, while his sisters Miyu and Seiko would win a combined seven world championships in the sport.

The youngest of the family, Yamamoto was sent on a learning excursion to Arizona, where he would train with Townsend Saunders, an Olympic silver medalist. He would take three state titles while in Arizona but would transition to MMA at 21 training with his then brother in law Enson Inoue.

While Yamamoto’s father wanted him to pursue an Olympic gold medal, Yamamoto would become one of the top stars in the sport prior to his shocking 2007 retirement fight in front of 40,000 fans at the Osaka Dome. Yamamoto would retire from MMA to attain his father’s dream of Olympic gold, but those dreams would be derailed as the freestyle wrestling hopeful would be injured while facing 2004 bronze medalist Kenji Inoue.

Two years after his retirement, Yamamoto would return to MMA, and debut with the UFC in 2011 in a decision loss to future flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson in the former’s UFC debut.

Yamamoto would lose all but one of his last seven fights, retiring in 2015 with an 18-6 record with two no-contests.

“Kid’s” legacy would begin on New Year’s Eve 2004, in a loss against Masato Kobayashi, where 35,000 viewers would attend the Osaka Dome with 34 million watching on television, as Yamamoto would a valiant effort against the heavier Kobayashi.

Yamamoto became Japan’s biggest MMA star in 2005, winning the HEROS lightweight championship tournament, with victories over Royler Gracie, Caol Uno, and Genki Sudo being stopped by Yamamoto by knockout. Following the title win, Yamamoto would set the then record for a knockout, when he would drop Kazuyuki Miyata in four seconds with a flying knee.

 

The UFC has released a collection of Yamamoto’s best fights and moments for free on their FIGHT PASS platform

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