Ishii sets sights on pro martial arts

Kyodo News

Japanese judoka Satoshi Ishii, who won the men’s over-100-kg gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, intends to quit the sport and become a professional martial artist, judo officials said Monday.

Kazuo Yoshimura, chief technical director of the All Japan Judo Federation, said he has been notified of Ishii’s intention directly from the 21-year-old and added the federation plans to drop him from the list of top-ranked athletes.

“He said he wants to join the world of mixed martial arts and personally I think he should go his own way,” Yoshimura said. Ishii could not be reached for comment on Monday.

On Sunday, Ishii denied a report that he has decided to pursue mixed martial arts, which combines techniques from various martial arts.

However, Yoshimura said Ishii admitted to the report when they talked Sunday night.