Norifumi Kid Yamamoto has died after a battle with cancer reports the Independent. His gym, Krazy Bee, released a statement, “To everyone who supported Yamamoto “Kid” Tokunaga Yamamoto KID Tokuhiki (41 years and 6 months of age) passed away today on September 18th. 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 announced on August 26th, 2018 on his Instagram account that he had cancer. He was 41 and leaves behind two sons and a daughter.
Kid Yamamoto was one of the pioneers in MMA. Born into a famous Japanese wrestling family, Kid was destined to be a fighter. He went to school in the United States where he won three state championships in wrestling at Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Arizona. Kid eventually returned to Japan where he got in trouble with the Yakuza that led him to become an MMA fighter.
As Enson Inoue, Japanese MMA fighter and Kid’s brother in law tells it, Kid shot a Yakuza member in the face with a BB gun. This incident almost got him killed if it wasn’t for Enson getting involved. Enson who had good relations with the Yakuza got the Yakuza off Kid’s back but Kid now had the stigma of the Yakuza wanting to get him. This led to wrestling schools to not want any associations with Kid. Enson told Kid to look into MMA to stay in shape and make some money.
Standing only 5’4″ tall, Kid was always the smaller guy fighting. But his aggressive style and willingness to fight anybody won him over fans. Accompanied by his good looks, Kid became a celebrity in Japan.
Kid’s first foray into MMA did not last long. His first professional fight was on March 2, 2001, until he retired in 2007 to pursue an Olympic Medal in the 2008 Olympics. However, the passion wasn’t there. The only reason he left MMA was to fulfill his fathers dream of becoming a Gold medalist in freestyle wrestling in the Olympics. But his father’s dream would not come true as Kid suffered a dislocated right elbow preventing him from competing.
Kid’s best days were behind him. Prone to injury and suffering many defeats he was not the same. He fought in the Dream organization and the UFC but he couldn’t string any wins together.
Once news broke out that Kid had died there was an outpouring of responses praising the lightweight MMA pioneer.
— Cub Swanson (@CubSwanson) September 18, 2018
RIP…. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto 😞 pic.twitter.com/K8OJblm0ip
— Dana White (@danawhite) September 18, 2018
One of my favorite fighters ever as well, the best finishes dominated people and big names who were much bigger than him Kyoji is just like KID Yamamoto. RIP grew up watching him destroy people he was once a former Top 10 P4P fighter thank you @criscyborg for taking the time4this
— NinjasAreReal (@VictorVonDoooom) September 18, 2018
An amazing fighter. I remember watching him set the record for fastest ko. RIP Kid
— Casey (@ThekarateKC) September 18, 2018
An absolutely incredible human being.
— Stewart Fulton (@sfultonMMA) September 18, 2018
This is such somber news. RIP Kid Yamamoto. I hope you went peacefully. I loved watching you fight, especially as I was getting my start in MMA https://t.co/WzEbcGZc17
— Sarah Kaufman (@mmasarah) September 18, 2018
Very sad. True warrior is the perfect way to describe him.
— Todd Helgesen (@helgesen10) September 18, 2018
So if you’re a fight fan check out some of his fights on Youtube. This is him setting an MMA record for fastest knockout defeating Kazuyuki Miyata in four seconds.