My MMA News first reported Yarborough’s passing, and UFC.com has since confirmed the news. The cause of death is currently unknown; Yarborough died on Monday in Richmond, Va..
Yarborough wrestled and played football at Morgan State University and captured All-American honors as a wrestler in 1986. Listed at 6-foot-8, 600 pounds, the Rahway, N.J., native, reportedly weighed as much as 882 pounds during an amateur sumo wrestling career, earning him recognition from the Guinness World Records as the heaviest living athlete. He won a world amateur sumo title in 1995.
He made his mixed martial arts debut on Sept. 9, 1994, losing to the much smaller Keith Hackney via technical knockout at the 1:59 mark of round one. Hackney, who weighed around 200 pounds, ultimately dropped his massive opponent with something he referred to as a “White Crane strike” before finishing a turtled Yarborough with a series of right hands on the canvas.
“He was curling 315 pounds 20 times in a row on camera,” Hackney told Sherdog.com in 2011. “We talked about kicking his legs, but what kind of leg kick are you going to do on him? I went in there to give him the fight of his life, and whether I won or lost, he was gonna know he was in a fight.”
Yarborough earned his first -- and only -- MMA victory nearly four years later, when he infamously defeated Tatsuaki Nakano at Shooto “Shoot the Shooto XX” via smothering in just 77 seconds in Yokohama, Japan. Yarborough fought just once more after that, when he tapped to punches against Daiju Takase at a Pride Fighting Championships 3 in June 1998.
"Emanuel’s passion was to travel," Yarborough's lanager, Beatrice H. Davis, wrote in a statement provided to UFC.com. "Even though it was not an easy task for him, it never stopped him from following his dreams, and bringing smiles to the faces of all he would meet. He was to be the subject of a new reality show, and would have continued to bring smiles to all those who had the opportunity to be blessed by his infectious, compassionate, loving presence. He will be missed by his millions of fans around the world, friends and family."