By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran IMMAF was saddened to learn that Japanese MMA icon, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, had passed away on Tuesday September 18 at the age of 41, following his battle with cancer. From his roots as a young wrestling prodigy, the son of a Japanese Olympian progressed to achieve K-1 and MMA stardom, capturing the imagination of Japan’s mainstream. The charismatic Yamamoto rose to sensational prominence at the forefront of Japanese MMA throughout the noughties. Making his debut in 2001, Yamamoto was renown for taking on much larger opposition and pioneered the prominence of lighter weight divisions, competing as a lightweight, featherweight and bantamweight, eventually breaking into the UFC ranks in 2011. Following his passing, the Japan MMA Federation (JMMAF) today issued a touching message for the national hero: We are in deep sorrow to hear that “Kid” passed away. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto began his sensational MMA career in 2001, the beginning of 21st century. Just few years later, he grew to become the embodiment of modern MMA in Japan. Kid became the superstar of Japanese MMA and was influential in widely opening the market for recognition of smaller weight competitors. Kid fought not only MMA, but also in K-1 rules. Despite regularly being the smallest competitor, he showed great skill, ability and spirit that moved entire audiences. Many athletes of the Japan MMA Federation (JMMAF) say how Kid is their favorite fighter and inspiration for starting their own journey in MMA. From athletes, coaches, officials and fans, Japan loves you and respects you, Kid. Never to be forgotten, thank you and forever, The Japan MMA Federation.