Every year we used to follow Marti Malloy (USA), world and Olympic medallist, wishing a happy birthday to her first coach, Yoshihiro Uchida, who despite the years, strong of foot and eye, was still present on the tatami.
Yoshihiro Uchida and Marti Malloy

It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Yoshihiro Uchida Sensei at the age of 104.

USA Judo announced, "The judo world comes together to mourn the passing of Sensei Yoshihiro Uchida, the grandfather of American judo and coach of the first U.S. Judo Olympic Team in 1964. Uchida, who turned 104 in April, passed away on 27th June."

Marti Malloy said, "Today my coach and mentor and one of the most incredible people I have ever known passed away. On days like this it feels impossible to find the right words to convey what someone meant to you. There is sadness alongside a strong sense of gratitude that permeates through the pain and makes me realise that despite all the amazing titles Coach Uchida had, I’m just so glad that I could call him my friend above all else. The world is so much better because of him. May he rest in peace and may all of us fortunate to have shared moments with him carry on his teachings, tenacity and desire to do good for the benefit of all."

The 1964 USA Judo Olympic Team (l to r): George Morris, Jim Bregman, Yoshihiro Uchida, Paul Maruyama and Ben Nighthorse Campbell

Uchida began teaching his first judo classes at SJSU (San Jose State University) while still a student. Among his first students were many veterans of World War II. After graduating in biology in 1947, he remained the coach at SJSU and helped create the weight classes used in competition.

Thus it all began over 80 years ago when he launched the judo programme at San Jose State University in the United States. Very quickly, he participated in the organisation of the first national championship of the Collegiate Judo Association, in 1962.

Having become coach of the first American judo team, he travelled to Tokyo in 1964, when our sport first appeared on the Olympic Games programme. Thanks to Jim Bregman, he won his first Olympic bronze medal as a coach, in the -80 kg category. Throughout his incredible career, Yoshihiro Uchida was the sporting father of many Olympic athletes.

For his contributions to judo, the Japanese Emperor awarded him the Order of the Sacred Treasure with Golden Rays in 1986. In 1996, Uchida was formally inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame. He has also received numerous awards from SJSU, including the Tower Award, the school’s highest award, in 1992, and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2004. The campus building that houses the judo dojo was renamed ‘Yoshihiro Uchida Hall’ in 1997 and also houses the SJSU Hall of Fame featuring those judoka who thrived under Uchida's mentoring.

We present our deepest condolences to Yoshihiro Uchida's family and friends. His contribution to judo and to the world can not be measured. There is no doubt that he will be remembered for being a great judoka but above all a fantastic human being.


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