IJF News - 22 August, 2015

Judo luminaries inducted into IJF Hall of Fame - Class of 2015

The second IJF Hall of Fame Gala took place on Saturday as the judo family was united to celebrate the careers of some of the sport’s most illustrious names.

Class of 2015

The IJF inducted distinguished members of the judo family to the IJF Hall of Fame as the Class of 2015 were honoured at the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation on Saturday. 



The lavish setting hosted distinguished figures from the evolving Olympic sport whose illustrious careers are still celebrated today and will be long into the future. Their achievements and their legacies have paved the way for the world’s current elite judoka and the stardom they enjoy ahead of competing at events of magnitude such as the World Championships.


In 2013, the IJF launched its Hall of Fame as 10 members of the judo family were inducted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


The IJF presents its Olympic and world champions as heroes and gives them the spotlight their immense talents deserve. The Hall of Fame gala recognises the contributions of these figures in a special setting and a special night to bestow one more honour on these heroes of our sport.


Mr. Marius VIZER, IJF President, opened the IJF Hall of Fame gala on Saturday evening.


“Dear friends, ladies and gentlemen, colleagues and distinguished guests, this is the second IJF Hall of Fame evening following Rio in 2013. Today we celebrate and honour the careers of our heroes once again. It is an honour to be in your presence and to continue to develop the image and promotion of our sport together.


“I congratulate you all and wish you a memorable evening. I wish you the best for today and the best wishes for the future.”  



Kodokan President Uemura Haruki has reached the summit of our sport as a judoka and an educator. Uemura won the All Japan Championships in 1973 which earned him a berth at the World Championships in the same year where he earned a silver medal. Two years later he achieved a masterful double as he won the all Japan Championships and World Championships with a year to go until the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Japan led from the front in Canada as Uemura was won one of his country’s three Olympic gold medallists.


Mr. UEMURA said: “Mr. Marius VIZER, distinguished guests, all judo families, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for being inducted into the IJF Hall of Fame.


“It is a great honour to join the IJF Hall of Fame because I have been Olympic and world champion in the past. Judo is one of the Olympic sports and also helps to foster superior personality and to engage in good behaviour.


“From now on my mission is to pass on judo properly to the next generation. In order to achieve this mission, I would like to do my best to work closely with Mr. VIZER and all of the judo family here for the proper development and diffusion of judo.”



Yamashita Yasuhiro will forever be associated with greatness. Yamashita possessed a will to win and a skillset which was unparalleled as he won 203 consecutive matches between 1977 and 1985. During that time the Tokai University talisman won four World Championships and gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Off the tatami, Yamashita, is an unassuming, modest figure who, having refuted lucrative overtures outside of judo after his competitive career, retained all his desire for judo excellence and is a regular instructor for Tokai’s current crop of athletes as well as a source of inspiration for recreational and competitive judoka the world around.


YAMASHITA said: “It is such an honour for me to be inducted into the IJF Hall of Fame and awarded with such great champions."



South Korean hero Ki-Young Jeon mastered his craft and won the hearts of his nation who regard him as their greatest champion. Ki-Young was an unstoppable force in the 90s as he won three consecutive World Championships (1993, 1995, 1997) and ruled the world on the greatest stage of all, the Olympic Games, of Atlanta in 1996.


With his nation expectant and all eyes fixed on the favourite, Ki-Young was at his precocious best, winning all his fights by ippon with the exception of his opening contest against Dutchman Mark Huizinga who went on to rule the category after his conqueror retired. Ki-Young called time on his fighting days in 1997 as the reigning world champion and since then has worked with the national teams of Singapore and South Korea as well as being a sought after guest coach in every continent.


Mr. KI YOUNG said: “The award means a great deal to me. I am very happy to be inducted and honoured on such a special night for the judo family."



Shota Chochishvili fought for the former Soviet Union and at the age of 22 was crowned Olympic champion at the in 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Hailing from Ghvlevi in the K'arelis Raioni region – which today is part of Georgia - Chochishvili was an unknown when he entered his first Games, lacking experience of top level competition and the high-profile stage, but 1972 changed everything as he unceremoniously eliminated the top names in the category one-by-one until he surpassed David Starbrook (GBR) in the final. Chochishvili followed up by winning three consecutive European Championships silver medals and one world bronze medal before returning to the Olympic stage in 1976. After returning to the Olympic podium with a bronze medal and a European bronze a year later, Chochishvili, whose image was proudly on show at the 2015 Tbilisi Grand Prix, announced his retirement. Ramaz Chochishvili continued the legacy of his father as he won three European bronze medals as a member of the Georgian team. 


Shota Chochishvili passed away at the age of 59 on August 27, 2009 from leukemia.


His son Ramaz Chochishvili, himself a former three-time European, collected the award on his father’s behalf.


“I am so happy to accept this award, I would like to give a special thank you to the IJF President Mr. Vizer. I thank you all so much, this is the greatest achievement for Georgian judo,“ he said.




Dubbed a ‘pocket-sized fighting machine’ in the British media, Hull-born Karen Briggs was equally adept on her feet and on the ground with a leading lightweight judoka in close proximity. Briggs, who won four World Championships in the 1980s, was crowned world champion for the first time in 1982 at the age of 18. The all-action fighter moulded herself into an all-time great as she successfully defended her world title in 1984, 1986 and 1989.


Briggs, who was promoted to 8th Dan in June by the European Judo Union, said: “I am very privileged and honoured to be inducted into the IJF Hall of Fame.


BRIGGS said: “I feel very privileged and honoured. I am very saddened that my coach Roy Inman is not here, he was our rock on the British women’s team in the 80s. I thank the IJF, it is great to be here, thank you all.”





Every competitive judoka shares the ultimate ambition of one day representing their country at an Olympic Games. Only a minority, the most disciplined and deserving accomplish their goal. Cuba’s Driulis Gonzalez walked into five Olympic opening ceremonies in her remarkable career and on four times came away with a medal – only fellow IJF Hall of Famer Tani (née Tamura) Ryoko has won more with five to her name.  In 1996, after a lifetime of hard work and sacrifices, Cuba’s reigning world champion became the Olympic champion in Atlanta.


The three-time world champion had graced an Olympic podium for the first time in 1992 and repeated that result in 2004 with a silver in Sydney 2000 following her 1996 triumph. Gonzalez was Cuba’s flagbearer at the opening ceremony of the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and promptly secured her third Pan Am Games gold medal.


GONZALEZ said: “It is wonderful to be here, I feel very honoured, to receive this award. This award is really for all generations, present and past, thanks to you all.”



Seven-time European champion Gella Vandecaveye won honours at every level during a decade as one of the sport’s most prolific performers. The revered Belgian won her first world title in 1993 and between then and her next world crown in 2001, Vandecaveye dominated her continent as the accolades accumulated including the 1999 European Judoka of the Year Award.


The Olympic Games was also blessed with the talents of Vandecaveye as she captured silver in 1996 and four years later won bronze to seal her legacy and place among the upper echelons of her country’s finest Olympians.


VANDECAVEYE said: “Good evening, hello everyone, I would like to thank the IJF for this award, for this support and inspiration, to my federation and coaches for having belief in me. I want to thank you all.


Algeria’s Soraya Haddad won medals for her country on the biggest stages in judo. The multiple-time African champion brought notoriety to Algeria when she stepped up to succeed at the world level in 2005 with a bronze medal at the World Championships. That result gave the highly-popular fighter the belief to perform to the best of her ability at the Beijing 2008 Olympics and win a heroic bronze medal for her country. More accolades followed including Grand Prix victories and Grand Slam and World Masters medals as Haddad became one of the leading names in the early years of the IJF World Judo Tour. Haddad is now a coach in her native El-Kseur where she is committed to nurturing the next generation of judoka for Algeria.


HADDAD Said: “I am so happy to be here, thank you all, thank you to Mr. VIZER for all of his efforts to develop judo all over the world. I feel very grateful to be here and thank you very much.”




Five-time Olympian Maria Pekli made history in 2000 which reverberated around the world when she became the first Australian woman to win an Olympic judo medal since women’s judo officially joined the Olympic programme in 1992. The Australian judoka of Hungarian descent won bronze in Sydney and won Commonwealth Games gold in Manchester in 2002.


In 2008 Pekli joined Cuba's Driulys Gonzalez and Japan's Tani (née Tamura) Ryoko as the first female judoka to compete at five Olympic Games, with two appearances for her native Hungary and three for her adopted Australia.

In 2011, Pekli, a winner of seven national titles in a row, was awarded Lifetime Membership of Judo Australia for her contribution to the sport at the Australian National Judo Championships.

PEKLI said: “I tank al of the IJF, everyone here and who has been part of m career, it is an honour for our country, than you very much.”




The Japanese media agency, headquartered at Akasaka Biz Tower in Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo, received a special figure of judo founder Jigoro Kano from IJF President Mr. Marius Vizer.


Recipient Daisuke Fukushima said: “We are a media agency in Japan, it is a great honour to accept this award and acknowledgment. We would like to thank the IJF team, everyone in the judo family. We have Tokyo 2020 coming up and there is already excitement in Japan. We look forward to continuing our collobartion with the IJF.



China’s sporting goods specialists Taishan, official tatami suppliers for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, were recognised in Astana. Cui Gang, recipient of the Jigoro Kano figure, said: “It is a great honour for Taishan, thank you to all of the judo family, we are very happy to be part of the judo family.”


Green Hill

Sports manufacturer Green Hill, whose collaboration with the IJF includes their capacity as IJF Judogi Master suppliers, were also honoured. Green Hill President Jahangir RIAZ said: “This is a great pleasure for us and we are very pleased, thank you to all.



To conclude a fantastic evening, IJF President Mr. Vizer, said: "Tonight was a great moment for the international judo community and we can really describe it as a judo family, united and respectful of the values of the founder of judo, Master Jigoro Kano. It is an honour for us to celebrate our heroes who have so much contributed to the development of judo worldwide. We really had a great show, great champions of course, but also great artists in a superb venue. I think that everybody enjoyed the gala and the way it was organised by our team in cooperation with the local organising committee.

"The evening we could feel that the atmosphere was full of emotion. It is really crucial to celebrate our judo legends. Without them, judo wouldn’t be where it is today. But all of the new inductees also had an important message to deliver to the new generation. Judo is not only about competing, it is about building a better society, and giving the chance to our children to live in a better world by helping them to build a strong personality. This is really an important message that such a Gala can deliver to our judo community but also beyond our judo family."



On Sunday the draw and press conference will take place for the World Championships at the Rixos Hotel before the action starts on Monday with the -48kg and -60kg categories at the Alau Ice Palace. 


IJF Media & Communications Department
Mark Pickering, IJF Media Manager  

Nicolas Messner, IJF Media Director  

Photos © IJF Media by T. Zahonyi  



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