News Release

Zahari Damyanov of Bulgaria challenges the 100 Man Kumite

On April 23, 2016, at the Honbu Direct Daikanyama Dojo in Tokyo, 11th World Open Champion, Zahari Damyanov of Bulgaria, challenged Kyokushin's historically renowned test of the human spirit, the "100 Man Kumite".

The event attracted great media attention around the world. It was only the 2nd time a World Champion would attempt the 100 Man Kumite, the first being 10th World Champion Tariel Nikoleishvili of Russia, and Damyanov's 100 Man Kumite would be only 5 months after he was crowned 11th World Champion in a stunning victory after 3 days of grueling competitive matches and surprising outcomes. Excellent high ranking fighters including many of the Japanese team who fought in the World Open, and who are now in prime condition heading to the All Japan Weight Category Championships this June in Osaka, lined up with keen intensity to face Damyanov.

At 13:00, just before the event commenced, Kancho Shokei Matsui gave a brief and inspiring speech to Damyanov and his opponents, "The 100 Man Kumite is a dangerous challenge that can be life threatening. We will of course, record the result of each bout, whether win, lose or draw, but this undertaking is not considered a tournament round x 100. Exchange good techniques and strategy, and bear in mind to illustrate clean, effective fighting. Make this a valuable, 100 Man Kumite."

Kumite began with top Japanese fighter Mikio Ueda. Damyanov started off exceptionally well, securing Waza-ari and Ippon match victories straight through dozens of matches to his 30th opponent, and a judge's change. As Damyanov reached the midway point at match #50, he was standing tall, but appeared to sustain many hits, and Kancho advised him, "You must fend off all attacks, even if light. Relax more. You don't need to go for the kill (Ippon, Waza-ari) every time." Kancho also reminded Damyanov's opponents, "There is no meaning to this challenge if you go easy on him. No need to fight him like this is a World Open final match, but you must execute great technique so the Value of the "100 Man Kumite" is elevated."

Damyanov pressed on sustaining some damage, but overall with successful wins and draws; his first match loss didn't come till #58. At match #60, and another judges change, the number of draws and losses increased for Damyanov, and on his 70th, he lost by Awase-Ippon. The medical team immediately stepped in to formally check Damyanov's condition. Despite the doctor's recommendation he quit, Damyanov was intent on continuing, and made an effort to get back to the mat, but his body gave way to convulsions, a sign of shock. The medical team was adamant then, to end the event and rush Damyanov to the hospital for further evaluation.

The current World Champion could not succeed, which illustrates clearly the severity of the 100 Man Kumite. Only 15 men have ever even attempted the 100 Man Kumite in the 50-year history of the event; and of those few, only 10, Damyanov included, have even surpassed the 61st match. Kancho Matsui commented, "Zahari's challenge was under difficult conditions. At 30, he is one of the oldest challengers to ever attempt the 100 Man Kumite, and he had just 5 months to prepare for it after his remarkable World Championship win. It is disappointing to him I'm sure, and to all of us, that we could not see this through to completion today; but neither this result, nor Damyanov's standing as World Champion, and one of the finest fighters in Kyokushin history, are diminished. Speaking from experience, the 100 Man Kumite only gets tougher from the 70th opponent on to the finish, so I respect the medical team's decision, and am proud of Damyanov's attempt."

Zahari Damyanov 100 Man Kumite Record
Date: 2016 April 23rd
Place: IKO Honbu Direct Daikanyama Dojo
Kumite Time: 1Min30Sec
Start: 1:07pm
Ippon: 2
Awase-Ippon: 21
Waza-Ari: 12
Win by Decision: 8
Draw: 20
Lost: 7

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