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Sonny Chiba, a Japanese actor and martial arts film legend who starred in a number of notable films, died on Thursday (August 19) according to several reports. Chiba has appeared in films such as Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill among others, and fans online are paying their respects as the news continues to swirl about.

According to a report from Variety, Chiba’s agent confirmed the news to the outlet and it appears that the veteran actor passed away from complications related to the COVID-19 virus.

Born Sadaho Maedain Fukuoka, Japan, on January 22, 1939, Chiba began his long career in film and television dating back to the 1960s and he worked well into the 2010s as both an actor and choreographer.

Chiba became a first-degree black belt in Karate in 1965, beginning his training at Nippon Sports Science University in the late 1950s. Chiba went on to earn a fourth-degree black belt in the discipline, and also owned black belts in the arts of Shorinji Kempo, Judo, Kendo, and Goju-Ryu. Chiba was also a multi-talented high school athlete, with track and field and gymnastics being a part of his vast repertoire.

Around 1960, Chiba was reportedly discovered by the Toei film studio and began working under the stage name Shinichi Chiba. Chiba’s first martial arts film role was in 1973’s Karate Kiba and he became a mainstream name in 1974 via the film The Street Fighter. Chiba also starred as Hattori Hanzo in Kill Bill Volume 1, a grizzled weapons master who aids Uma Thurman’s Beatrix Kiddo character in her quest for revenge. Chiba also starred in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

Chiba starred in several dozen films over the course of his career, many of those airing in his native Japan. He also performed theater work among other achievements. Chiba is survived by an adult daughter and two adult sons, all of whom act as well.

Sonny Chiba was 82.

Photo: Getty

Japanese Martial Arts Film Legend Sonny Chiba Dies At 82  was originally published on hiphopwired.com

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