Erika Kamimura Announces Retirement From Combat SportsMulti-time kickboxing and shoot boxing world champion Erika Kamimura, one of the most skilled female strikers in Japan, has been forced to retire from combat sports due to a long-term incurable illness. The 21-year-old announced the news during a press conference on Monday in Tokyo.

Kamimura first began experiencing health issues shortly before her lone Sengoku appearance at “Soul of Fight” in late 2010. She opted to fight on and has since captured four world titles including the vacant Rise Queen Championship in September, but now retires at the height of her career.

Kamimura (28-3-0 KB/SB) rose to fame in Japan’s J-Girls kickboxing promotion where she earned the moniker of “The Strongest Female High School Student” thanks to her victories over older and more experienced opponents. After scoring notable wins over Mai and Little Tiger, a 16-year-old Kamimura captured the J-Girls Mini Flyweight Championship by defeating Haru “Taj Mahal” Tajima in July 2009. Mere weeks later, she added another title to her growing collection by claiming the WPMF Women’s Mini Flyweight Championship.

In late 2009, Kamimura suffered her first career defeat against Motoe Abe during a J-Girls World Queen tournament, but she rebounded with nine straight victories. Along the way, she avenged the loss to Abe and also won the WMC Women’s Mini Flyweight Championship. Having conquered nearly all top-level opponents in kickboxing, Kamimura entered the prestigious Shoot Boxing Girls S-Cup in 2011 and went on to win the tournament with three straight victories in one night including a decision win over current Deep Jewels champion Seo Hee Ham in the finals.

Six weeks after winning the 2011 Girls S-Cup, Kamimura became the inaugural WBC Women’s Mini Flyweight Champion by knocking out England’s Denise Mellor in the first round. Kamimura’s first bid for the Rise Queen Championship ended in defeat when she was outpointed by Japanese superstar Rena Kubota at Rise 85, but she continued to compete for the promotion and picked up two more wins including a second victory over Ham. She then entered the 2012 Shoot Boxing Girls S-Cup in hopes of becoming a two-time champion, but was upset by Lorena “Lady Pitbull” Klijn in the quarterfinals.

After losing to Klijn, Kamimura fought three more times. She regained and defended the vacant WPMF title that she had won early in her career and most recently defeated J-Girls champion Momi to become the second Rise Queen Champion. The title victory was unquestionably one of Kamimura’s biggest wins to date, but a lack of quality opponents coupled with ongoing health troubles led Kamimura to thoughts of retirement. After consulting with physicians, she decided to put an end to her career.

While the exact nature of Kamimura’s health problem was not revealed, it is said to be an incurable illness that is severely aggravated by the physical and mental strain of training and fighting. Kamimura’s day-to-day life has not been affected and she retires from active competition with no regrets. She plans to continue to teach youth classes at the Target Gym.

Kamimura’s 31-fight career was one of the most impressive of any female fighter in Japan to date. The seven-time world champion’s departure – just as with the recent retirements of MMA fighters Megumi Fujii, Hitomi Akano, Hiroko Yamanaka and Mika Nagano – creates a great challenge for Japanese promotions that are struggling to develop the next wave of female champions.



(Photo Credit: eFight)

  1. Well, that sucks. She had great potential. At least, Rena Kubota, Mizuki Inoue and Yukari Yamaguchi are there to keep that Japanese potential, put none of them had the type of brawling style and pure KO power that Kamimura had. I hope she has a good life even with those issues that forced her to retire.

  2. Very sad to hear. She was a very talented and fierce competitor. So accomplished at such a young age as well. My best to her, and wish her great success with the next chapter of her life.