In the United States of America it is National Superhero Day, first established by the Marvel dynasty in 1995. However, the superheroes of fantasy have existed for many more decades than that, with the Phantom comic strip igniting the world’s imagination back in 1936.

Now we understand the many layers of what the term ‘superhero’ means. It is no longer only about masked and caped crusaders or about magic or dystopia. Now we understand that the term also refers to those who have an impact on others, striving to provide positive outlooks, positive solutions and inspirational actions in times of struggle.

Judo is a sport which, through its values and educational expectations, facilitates the creation of real life heroes, those we can touch and witness, month in and month out.

Saeid Mollaei wearing a judogi-shaped superhero cape

On the World Judo Tour we see the likes of Saeid Mollaei overcoming unthinkable personal circumstances, with his spirit fully in tact, finding a new forever-place in the world. Throughout both his public and private challenges, Mollaei exhibits only the very purest intentions, always. In Baku we saw him take on a young child in an epic show of skill and love, inspiring children all over the world. We have seen him step into Israel, bravely standing up for his beliefs over the potential for political punishment.

Saeid is not alone. In Judo we have heroes all over the world. How about Georgia’s Olympic champion and 3-time Olympic medallist Lasha Shavdatuashvili, treated like a king all over the country. He arrives at dojos to watch and support, he takes photos with children and is forever accessible. He makes a difference, utilising the natural and cultural passion of an entire nation, to show young judoka that their dreams are not impossible. He has been joined by Grigalashvili, Bekauri and countless others who all celebrate their successes and always the successes of the whole team. This is a country that spotlights an entire team of heroes.

Lasha Shavdatuashvili inspires the next generations

How about Sabrina Filzmoser? How can she not be heralded as a hero? She travels the world spreading messages of peace and conservation, of humanist values and of tolerance. She climbs and runs and builds, never expecting anything in return. Sabrina is adored in her adopted Nepal and Bhutan, not because she is some sort of sports star but because she has taken the time to integrate and use her position for only the very purest of motives. She is the glue for remote communities, bringing hope and showing great commitment to strangers whom she may never have met if it wasn’t for the sport that she says gave her so much.

IJF Climate Ambassador Sabrina Filmozer lives by her word: recycling projects in the Himalayas

Heroes now live among us. In fact we can all be a hero for someone, we have the ability. Sabrina, Saeid, Lasha and others show us how. We can all contribute to the person beside us having a better day. Judo has taught these superheroes that!

Today, you can be someone’s hero! Happy U.S. National Superhero Day!

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