“The Beast” is coming to Yokota Air Base, Japan.

A successful professional fighter and the biggest — literally — American celebrity in Japan, Bob Sapp, will visit Yokota Feb. 7 and 8 to mingle with base residents.

Yokota’s African American Heritage Committee is sponsoring the visit, said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Atkinson, superintendent of the 374th Maintenance Operations Squadron.

Known as “The Beast,” Sapp skyrocketed to fame in Japan as a fighter and entertainer since his April 2002 fighting debut. At nearly 6 feet, six inches tall and more than 350 pounds, the NFL washout is a fearsome presence in the Japanese professional fighting league K-1 and a curious specimen to Japanese.

During a phone interview Tuesday from Tokyo, Sapp said he’s looking forward to his first official visit to a U.S. military base in Japan.

“It’s a way that I can support the troops overseas,” he said. “Whether you’re for or against the war, I believe, is irrelevant.”

Military members are “willing to risk their lives to save other lives. I would like to show my appreciation for what they do.”

His tentative itinerary includes:

• Feb. 7 — Welcome party from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Enlisted Club’s Spectrum Room. The event is free and open to the base.

• Feb. 8 — Visit to Yokota Middle School gymnasium from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.; presentation of trophies at an African American Heritage Committee three-on-three basketball tournament from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Yokota Community Center; signing autographs and posing for photos from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the community center.

Sapp said he’s supposed to visit military bases on Okinawa later this year, but he didn’t know the dates. He would consider going to more bases — if asked and if able to find time in an already packed calendar of training and business commitments, he said.

As an athlete, he said he must adhere to a regimented training schedule.

“But hey,” he said, “it ain’t nothing like that compared to the military.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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