Beijing judo gold medalist Ishii leaving sport for MMA

Updated: October 31, 2008, 9:18 AM ET
Associated Press

TOKYO -- Olympic gold medalist Satoshi Ishii is giving up judo to take up a career in mixed martial arts, according to a published report.

Ishii, who won the gold medal in the men's over-100-kg event at the Beijing Olympics, informed Japanese judo officials on Friday of his decision to become a professional mixed martial arts competitor, Nikkansports said.

He will become the third Japanese judo competitor to switch to professional martial arts following 1992 Barcelona Games 78-kg champion Hidehiko Yoshida and Makoto Takimoto, who won the 81-kg title at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Mixed martial arts is highly popular in Japan. Events often attract as many as 60,000 fans.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press