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The Mother of Women's Judo

Rusty Kanokogi practices judo in Japan in the 1960s. COURTESY KANOKOGI FAMILY

In 1959, Rusty Kanokogi won a judo contest. It was in New York. But her award was taken away. That was because she was a woman. She had pretended to be a man to compete. After that, Kanokogi set a goal. She would help women in judo.

Kanokogi’s Fight

In 1962, Kanokogi went to Japan. She trained freely against men. Soon she moved back to the United States. She talked to judo groups. She persuaded them to let women compete. She even helped pay for the first women’s judo world championship. It was in New York. That was in 1980.

It helped take women’s judo to the Olympics in 1988. Men’s judo was already an Olympic sport. Men had been competing for more than 20 years. Now there are seven women’s judo events in the Olympics.