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Rena Kanokogi
Born Rena Glickman
June 30, 1935(1935-06-30)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died November 21, 2009 (aged 74)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
multiple myeloma
Other names Rusty
Residence Brooklyn, New York City
Style Judo
Rank 7th dan judo

Rena "Rusty" Kanokogi (July 30, 1935 – November 21, 2009) was a Jewish-American judoka from Brooklyn, New York.

Born as Rena Glickman, she became the first woman to practise judo in the Kodokan dojo in Tokyo, Japan.[1] In 1959 Rena competed at the YMCA championship in Utica, N.Y. disguised as a man[2]. To maintain her disguise she changed in a broom closet, cut her hair short, and taped down her breasts. She was an alternate on the team and had to step in when a male member was injured and unable to compete. She won the match against her male opponent and her team won the contest. She was then pulled aside and asked if she was a female. She told the truth and was stripped of her gold medal. 50 years later in August 2009 the New York State YMCA awarded Rena Kanokogi a gold medal to honor her lifetime's work. She sponsored the first women's judo competition and was the driving force behind the introduction of women's judo in the Olympics. [1] Kanokogi met her husband, Ryohei Kanokogi, while in Japan in the 1960s.[3]

In 1988, Kanokogi was Coach of the first United States Olympic Women's Judo Team. In 2008, she was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan's highest civilian honors.[4]


Rusty Kanokogi died on November 21, 2009 from multiple myeloma, aged 74.[5] She was survived by her husband (Ryohei Kanokogi) , two children (Ted Kanokogi,Jean Kanokogi)[2] and two grandchildren.


  1. ^ Lewellen, W. (c. 2004): Women's Sports Foundation: Rena Kanokogi, mother of women's judo Retrieved on November 24, 2009.
  2. ^ Wilkins, J. and Boyle, C. (2009): Woman who posed as man to become judo champ finally gets gold New York Daily News (August 2009). Retrieved on August 22, 2009.
  3. ^ Thursby, K. (2009): US women's judo pioneer Rena 'Rusty' Kanokogi dies at 74 Los Angeles Times (November 24, 2009). Retrieved on November 24, 2009.
  4. ^ Smith, G. (2008): Chicken soup for the martial artist: The mother of woman's (sic) judo—a Jewish grandma—gets crowned Sports Illustrated (November 24, 2008). Retrieved on November 24, 2009.
  5. ^ The York Times obituary


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