Monday, March 16, 2009

A continuing SJSU dynasty

The student paper this morning proclaimed:

SJSU captures its 44th national collegiate tournament victory
next to a picture of two guys on a judo mat.

Inside the paper, it reported that out of 20 schools competing for the judo championship, SJSU won medals in 9 out of 11 weight division, winning 43-27 over UC Davis. This was the 44th time that SJSU won the National Collegiate Judo Championships in the 48 years that the competition existed. I cannot recall another example of when “SJSU” and “dynasty” could otherwise be used in the same sentence. (Neither the Bushes nor Kennedys aspire to run the joint.)

As a former newsman, this seemed like a story. However, the story was (or should be) a familiar one to anyone who lives in San Jose. In all 44 cases, the team was coached by SJSU’s Yoshihiro Uchida, who created the collegiate championship in 1962 and in 1964 became the first coach ever for the US Olympic judo team.

The competition was held in SJSU’s Uchida Hall, one of many honors that has accrued to the modest legend with his legendary modesty. (But then quiet humility is a trait that was common among the Nisei of his generation.)

As it so happens, one of my former MBA students, Ilya Ronin, was on the judo team as an undergraduate when it won four of those championships. Now he’s bootstrapping an exercise equipment company by selling it to judo coaches, among others.

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