Known as the mini-version of Bruce Lee, Ryuji “Ryusei” Imai, 8, of Nara, Japan is now part of ONE Championship as a brand ambassador. The Japanese boy was welcomed to the Singapore-based martial arts organization by flyweight mixed martial artist Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, 32, of Parkland, Washington, United States.
Imai and Johnson were recently in Tokyo, Japan to film campaigns for ONE Championship along with the promotion’s athletes Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki, 35, of Shizuoka, Japan and Alain “The Panther” Ngalani, 43, of Cameroon and Hong Kong. On February 3, 3019, ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong took to Facebook to share the news about the Bruce Lee kid.
Imai was only five years old when he started training in Jeet Kune Do, a hybrid philosophy of martial arts created by Lee. The kid caught the attention of the world through the viral videos featuring himself copying the exact moves of the late Hong Kong-American martial artist and actor from the martial arts movies “Way of the Dragon” and “Enter the Dragon.”
The videos were filmed in the home of Imai’s family in Nara. In the videos, he exhibits his martial arts skill using the Okinawan martial arts weapon nunchaku.
Titled “ONE: A New Era,” the first ever ONE Championship event in Japan will take place at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo on March 31, 2019. It will feature the first bout in the quarter-finals of ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix, which is between Johnson and Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu, 23, of Kagoshima, Japan.
“ONE: A New Era” marks Johnson’s ONE Championship debut. Before joining the promotion in ONE Championship in October 2018, he reigned as the inaugural UFC Flyweight Champion from September 22, 2012 to August 4, 2018.
There will be four title bouts at “ONE: A New Era.” In the main event, Aoki will challenge reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, 35, of Baguio City, Philippines.
It has yet to be confirmed if Imai is attending the “ONE: A New Era” fight night. Meanwhile, here is a clip featuring the martial arts prodigy with Johnson, Aoki and Ngalani: