USA Judo logo

USA Judo

Nov 22 Members of the International Community Pay Tribute to Rusty Kanokogi

Nov. 22, 2009, 2:52 p.m. (ET)

Following the passing of 1988 Olympic Coach Rusty Kanokogi, members of the domestic and international communities paid their respects to this legend. Below are condolences expressed by members of the judo family:

Jason Morris, 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Coach and 1992 Olympic Silver Medalist
On hearing the news of Rusty's losing her battle to cancer I reflected on where I'd be without her life.  As the husband of a national competitor and an IJF certified referee and as the coach of dozens of girls and women over the past ten years at the local level and on the World and Olympic stage I recognize that my debt of gratitude to her is immeasurable.  Without Rusty's life's work women might still not be playing judo today.   Without her life my life would be very much poorer.  I know that today there are many of us feeling the same way.

The good news today is that Rusty's life will be celebrated forever as we continue to do judo and build our sport at the grassroots level as Rusty did for 50 years for both men and women.  To all of you who call Rusty a personal friend, to those of you who know Rusty through her tireless devotion to Judo in the US and to New York Judo especially and to all women athletes everywhere please know that Teri and I share your sense of loss.

Grace Jividen, 1992 Olympian
Rusty... Due to your never ending commitment and persistence, I have fulfilled my Olympic dream.  Thank you.

Marius Vizer, IJF President
I was saddened to hear about the passing away of Mrs. Rena "Rusty" Kanokogi and I would like you to know that you are in our thoughts during this difficult time.

Through this letter, I extend my condolences to Mrs. Kanokogi's family and to the USA Judo. I hope that time and memories will help lessen the burden of your sorrow, and that you may draw some measure of comfort knowing that others care and share in your loss.

Moreover, I would like to express one more time the deep recognition that we have for Mrs. Kanokogi's activity. She was a valuable member of the World Judo Family and her contribution to Women's and International Judo will never be forgotten.  Click here to view letter from Mr. Vizer.

Francois Besson, IJF Sports Director
I am choked by this terrible info. She was a great personality totally devoted to Judo who has had exceptional achievements. She has played a great role in the development of Judo particularly for female. She has been the one to gather, to push people to organize the first World Judo Championships ever already 29th year ago and to succeed. I will remember her generosity, her frankness, her friendship, her happiness and all her efforts for our discipline but also discussion out of Judo regarding modern art. My thoughts are turned to her, her family, her relatives. I send all my most sincere condolences to the Judo Family of USA but I am sure we will miss her all around the world.

Mohahmed Meridja, IJF Education and Coaching Director
I would like to convey my sincere condolences for the passing away of Mrs Rena (Rusty) KANOKOGI. May she rest in peace and her family find confort in these difficult moments.

Pepe O. Roses, IJF Referee Commission Secretariat 
Jan Snijders, IJF Referee Commission Director
Juan Carlos Barcos, IJF Head Director

On today's date it has come to our knowledge of the sudden decease of our old friend Mrs. Rena (Rusty) KANOKOGI (New York, USA), New York State Judo Inc. former President during many years, responsible and organizer of the first women's  World Championships in 1980 (Madison Square Garden, New York), IJF Continental Referee since 1985 and recently (Sept.'09) awarded by IJF as 'IJF INTERNATIONAL HONORARY REFEREE' (which it was one of her dreams), a real Judo person, a good person; on behalf of the IJF REF COM, we wish to present with grief and sorrow to all of you our deepest condolences to the loss of a great and well known person in the world of Judo. You are kindly requested to send our deepest condolences to the deceased's family.

Clare Hargrave, Oceania Judo Union President

I write to convey the sincere condolences of myself and the Oceania Judo Union on the recent death of Rusty Kanokogi.

Rusty was an iconic figure in world Judo for many years. She was a pioneer in every area and especially in her support for women in judo and in other sports and fields of activity. Her initiative in holding the first Women's World Championship in 1980 was the kick-start for women's world competition and brought international women's judo onto an equal footing with men's judo.

I first met Rusty at the Pacific Rim Championships in Honolulu in 1980, she made an immediate impression as one of the most colourful characters in world judo, and as a passionate advocate for the causes she believed in.

Rusty excelled as competitor, as coach, as referee but most of all as advocate for women's judo in every aspect. Her achievements are too many to detail and her influence will be remember throughout the judo world for many years to come but most especially by the very many women who became her friends and colleagues over her long and productive judo life. Please pass our condolences and regards to Rusty's family.

Click here to view full letter

Haruki UEMURA, All Japan Judo Federation President
I am very sorry to hear of Mrs. Rena 'Rusty' Kanokogi's passing. Please accept my deepest sympathy and condolences. She was highly respected by all the Judo friends and we greatly appreciate how much she dedicated her life to Judo. She will be missed by more than we know. My thoughts and prayers are with you and her family at this difficult time.

Jean Luc Rougé, French Judo Federation President
I have just learned about the death of Rusty Kanokogi. These sad news especially touch me, but also the whole French judo. I wish to express you our sincere condolences and to assure you our support; I ask you to kindly transmit this message to her family. Her action and influence allowed judo to exist and to progress. 

WANG Baoliang, Chinese Judo Association President
It is extremely sad to know this. We would like to express our sincere condolences for the passing away of Mrs. Kanokogi. As Mother of Judo, her activity and tremendous contribution, shall never be forgotten. May she rest in peace!

Charlie Formosa, Judo Ontario President

On behalf of the Judo Ontario community, I would like to offer the sincerest condolences and sympathy to the family and friends of Rena "Rusty" Kanokogi. 

It is with deep sorrow that we learned of Rusty Kanokogi's passing.  She served the sport of judo and her nation with zeal and enthusiasm.  Rusty was instrumental in the success of women's judo and those that knew her benefited by her contribution.   She will be greatly missed.

We hope that the Kanokogi Family finds the courage and determination to bear this loss. 

Frank Morales, USA Judo Referee Commission
Rusty's death is a tragic loss to family, friends, and the Judo community. The members of the Commission, on a personal and standpoint, will miss Rusty dearly. The Referee Commission is honored and greatly appreciative of  Rusty's hard work and dedication to the Judo Community for many years. Rusty over the years made many good friends all over the world and is leaving behind memories of a warm, generous, kind, and charming person. Rusty is a unique individual and the world will miss her.