Aug 27, 2009
title: ‘“Mother of Judo” receives her gold 50 years on - Yahoo! News’
- just for fun
—>NEW YORK (Reuters) –
The “Mother of Judo” waited 50 years to get the gold medal that was snatched from her in her first serious competition, a gender injustice that fuelled Rusty Kanokogi’s winning crusade for women’s judo in the
The gruff, plain talking Kanokogi who has received praise and recognition from the government of
International Judo Federation and International Women’s Hall of Fame, was denied the prize at a YMCA tournament for
being a woman.
“This should never, never happen to a woman again in sports,” Kanokogi said about the rage she felt back in 1959.
The 74-year-old was speaking in an interview with Reuters on the eve of last week’s medal ceremony that rectified the wrong half a century later.
“It was a negative for a while but I turned it around into a positive. I started the manoeuvring for the recognition of women’s judo and other sports. Basically it was encouragement.
“If the medal had not been taken away from me, who knows? Women’s judo could still be waiting to get into the Olympics.”
The gender-equality fighter who is now battling a rare form of cancer was born Rena Glickman and grew up tough on the streets of Brooklyn’s
Coney Island when girls were not allowed to play most school sports.
“I was a strong girl, very physically active with no sports in school because that was for boys only,” she said.
“So I took pleasure in hitting the heavy bag (punch bag) after school. I had a chip on my shoulder so I started using people in the street as a heavy bag.
“I was getting in trouble. Here I had the physical ability of a strong male with the mentality of a teenage girl. I was kind of lost. I was a lost soul with no place to go.”
Kanokogi found herself in judo, intrigued after a friend showed her some moves.
She threw herself into the sport and practised with the young men at the local YMCA when asked by the coach to fill in for an injured boy in a competition at upstate
Utica, New York.
Told to try and earn a draw in her match to help the team, the 24-year-old produced a surprise.
“Instinctively, once I took hold of my opponent’s judo gee (uniform top) I just went in for the big attack and I threw him,” she recalled. “It worked. I got a full point.”
Kanokogi said that although it was not in the rules that competitors had to be male, she disguised herself anyway. “I wasn’t told to take the ace (stretch) bandage and bind up my boobs,” she said. “I did that on my own.”
However, the tournament director confronted her afterwards, insisting girls could not compete and saying she would have to give her medal back or her team would be disqualified.
“I took the medal off and handed it to him,” she said. “All of the guys wanted to give the medals back and the trophy and I refused to let them do that. We had a solemn ride back to the city.”