Rio de Janeiro – Brazil, August 25, 2013: The first IJF Hall of Fame Gala took place on Sunday as the judo family was united to celebrate the careers of some of the sport’s most illustrious names.
The memorable evening was a celebration of judo luminaries and also featured special performances by acclaimed artists Marcel Pavel and Irina Nicolae. Marius Vizer, IJF President, started the special night with a welcoming address.
“Dear guests, ladies and gentleman, good evening and welcome to first IJF Hall of Fame Gala. We have previously induced Jigoro Kano, Anton Geesink and Charles Palmer. Tonight we continue the tradition of celebrating our heroes.”
IOC Executive Board member Patrick Hickey was the first person on stage as he was inducted by Marius Vizer who said: “The judo family is very proud of you, you have always proudly supported the sport. You represent judo with great honour and we thank you.”
Hickey said: “I’m humbled to be here and with so many legends. I’m proud to be in such special company. I a missing a very dear friend in this room and that is Anton Geesink. I took up judo because of him. After 1964 our careers mingled and we were good friends. I’m so pleased his family could be here. I thank you all for this wonderful award.”
Mrs. Ingrid Berghmans became the first woman to enter the IJF Hall of Fame as she was inducted by Carlos Nuzman, Brazilian Olympic Committee President, who said “I’m delighted to be here. I congratulate judo for their work and I have a great honour in giving this award.”
Mrs. Ingrid Berghmans said: “I’m very proud and I’m very honoured to be the first woman to be in the Hall of Fame.”
George Kerr was inducted by Kerrith Brown, British Judo Association Chairman, who said: “It’s an honour to present this award. George’s career has been quite incredible. He has done great things for judo and not just in Britain.”
The 10th Dan said: “This is a great honour for me and I thank you very much.”
IJF General Secretary Jean-Luc Rouge, who was inducted by Marius Vizer, IJF President, said: “Thank you very much, this is a great privilege for me.”
Willem Ruska was inducted by Jan Snijders, IJF Head Refereeing Director, who said: “I had the honour of training with Willem. He was a great champion. He can’t be here but his wife Elisabeth will accept the award.”
Mrs. Elisabeth Ruska said: “Thank you all very much.”
Franco Capelletti was inducted by Vizer who said: “Franco is a great man and it is my pleasure to make this award.”
Capelletti said: “Judo is my life, I thank you very much and especially our President Vizer.”
David Douillet, who was inducted by Juan Carlos Barcos, IJF Head Referee Director, said: “I’m very proud to be here with my family. I thank our President for keeping the value of the judo family for the future, thank you very much.”
Aurelio Fernandez Miguel was inducted by Paulo Wanderley, Brazil Judo Confederation and Pan American Judo Confederation President, who said: “Thank you Vizer, thank you Carlos Nuzman. Aurelio was a judo champion, now he is a champion of life.”
Aurelio Fernandez Miguel said: “I thank my father for introducing me to judo. I thank Carlos Nuzman for bringing Olympics to Rio and I thank Paulo Wanderley for his work and support. Thank you Vizer and all his team for bringing judo up this level. It is my honour to be here.”
Mohamed Ali Rashwan was inducted by AJU President, Lasana Palenfo and said: “It is great to be here, thank you very much for this induction.”
Mrs. Ryoko Tani was inducted by Obaid Al Anzi, Judo Union of Asia President, who said: “I’m very pleased to be here, we’re very proud of Vizer and happy to bring the judo family together. I am proud to welcome and induct Ryoko Tani.”
The hugely popular inductee said: “Thank you very much for inviting me, thank you Mr. Vizer, I am very much looking forward to the World Championships.”
Robert van de Walle was inducted by Naser Al Tamimi, IJF General Treasurer, who said: “I’m proud to be here to award to one of the greats of judo.”
Van de Walle said: “Today I can say I’ve had a fantastic life through judo, I’ve loved it. I’m very proud that I could make a difference in judo.”
Ezio Gamba was inducted by Sergey Soloveychik, EJU President, who said: “Thank you for this opportunity. Ezio is a great person and a great coach. I thank him for the chance for judo to reach the highest level in Russia. It is my pleasure to make this presentation.
Gamba said: “Ladies and gentlemen thank you, I don’t want to forget my family, thank you everyone.”
Peter Seisenbacher inducted by Vladimir Barta, IJF Head Sports Director, who said: “I give this prize to a fantastic judoka who has been prepared throughout his career by George Kerr.”
Seisenbacher said: “I thank everyone, I’ve had a lot of great times in this sport. Our President has changed the judo world and for that I thank Vizer very much.”
Hector Rodriguez Torres was inducted by Alejandro Blanco, IJF Olympic Solidarity Director and President of the Spanish Olympic Committee, who said: “This is a very special moment for me to honour a great person.”
Torres said: “I thank you all and especially Mr. Vizer.”
Thierry Rey was inducted but was unable to attend and so Jean-Luc Rouge collected the awards on his behalf. Rouge said: “On behalf of French Judo, as President, I’m pleased that the first Olympic judo champion for France has been inducted into the IJF Hall of Fame.”
Kosei Inoue, who was inducted by Mohamed Merijda, IJF Coaching and Education Director, said: “Thank you for inviting me here, I’m honoured. I want to thank Vizer and everyone who has given me great opportunities in my career.”
Neil Adams was inducted by Hedi Dhouib, former IJF General Secretary, who said: “Thank you for this initiative and special evening.”
Adams said: “I’m very proud to have my names among such judo royalty. Sometimes we need a vision and I think Vizer had that. Judo is moving forward in the right direction. It has gone to another level and I’m proud to be part of the process. I think we all feel the same. We will endeavour to make it better and a truly international sport. I thank you Vizer for making it happen.”
With the Hall of Fame inductions complete Vizer made a special IJF Gold Medal presentation to Michal Vachun, EJU Vice President in recognition of his immense contributions to the sport.
Vachun said: “It is a great pleasure to be part of the judo family. I thank Mr. Sergey Soloveychik, EJU President, for taking me on board. In 2007 judo was at a crossroads and now we have taken the right direction thanks to Vizer.”
Vizer brought the magical evening to a close as attention turns to the competition which starts on Monday.
Vizer said: “I hope you all had a nice evening. It has been a big honour to celebrate our heroes. Congratulations to everyone. Thank you Paulo Wanderley for the organisation of World Championships, thank you Carlos Nuzman, for the organisation of next Olympics. I wish you all a nice time here in Rio and best wishes for the event.” —- IJF