FIAS vice-president César Chu has passed away ©FIAS

The International Sambo Federation (FIAS) has expressed its condolences following the death of vice-president and Pan-American Sambo Federation President César Chu.

Chu, a Panamanian athlete and coach who headed his country's national federation, has been heavily involved in the sport over the past two decades and his death has come as a shock to the sambo community.

In 2002, he organised of the first World Sambo Championships in Latin America and has often been attributed to popularising the martial art globally outside of Russian-centric nations.

Chu also played a large part in the FIAS being given provisional recognition of the International Olympic Committee in 2018.

"With his death, all Pan-American and world sambo suffered a colossal and irreparable loss," FIAS said in a statement.

"César Chu will forever remain in our hearts, and his name will be inscribed in the history of world sambo.

"The FIAS sincerely shares the pain of loss and expresses deep sympathy to the family, relatives, friends and colleagues of the deceased."

Chu's involvement in sambo dates back to 2000, when he started the development of the sport in the Pan American region. 

He was then elected as the first general secretary of Pan-American Sambo Federation in 2001.