Did you know the undisputed mother of women’s judo is a Jewish great-grandmother named Rena Glickman? And did you know that Japan’s government recently awarded her with one of its highest honors, the Emperor’s Order of the Rising Sun?
I kid you not. The mighty Rena Glickman (known to millions of judo-devotees as Rusty Kanokogi) has been doing her thing since the 1950s, when she had to masquerade as a man to practice her art (a neo-Yentl saga if ever there was one!) A recent Sports Illustrated article gives the backstory:
(Kanokogi) had to collect 25,000 signatures and threaten legal action for sex discrimination against the International Olympic Committee and its TV partner, ABC, to get women’s judo into the Games in ’88…She also found time, in between, to coach the 1988 Olympic team, officiate the ’96 Olympics and provide NBC’s color commentary at the 2004 Games.
I was so sorry to read that Ms. Kanokogi is currently being treated for bone cancer – all the more reason to be proud that she is receiving this unprecedented honor. Mazel Tov Rusty! (Or as the judo masters teach: “Chiri mo tsumori yamato nari.”)