Award committee grants direct financial support to four women representing the U.S. team at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics

Rusty Kanokogi Fund for the Advancement of 2021 US Judo Award Winners.

Rusty demonstrates a throw to a room full of students.

Jean Kanokogi, PhD, daughter of Rusty Kanokogi and co-author of his memoir, Get Up & Fight.


Rusty believed these athletes trained for the chance to represent the United States, so having the opportunity to help them is an honor.

– Jean Kanokogi, PhD

SEATTLE, WA, USA, July 20, 2021 / – Recipients Angelica Delgado, Nina Cutro-Kelly and Nefeli Papadakis form the Tokyo 2021 US Olympic team, and Maria Liana Mutia will represent the United States on the Tokyo 2021 US Paralympic team. All four women will host a direct financial subsidy from the Rusty Kanokogi Fund to help them financially pursue their Olympic dreams at the 2021 Games this summer.

the Rusty Kanokogi Fund for the Advancement of American Judo was established in 2009 by the Richard and Pamela Ader Foundation and Friends of Rusty, to honor and continue the legacy of the late Rena “Rusty” Kanokogi, known worldwide as “the mother of women’s judo” for her immense contribution to sport and its undeniable contribution to the arrival of women’s judo on the Olympic scene for the very first time at the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988.

The fund, administered by the Women’s Sports Foundation (#TeamWSF), typically provides direct financial assistance to aspiring judo athletes currently in training for national and international competitions with, among other things, demonstrated financial need. Typically, the fund selection committee awards a grant of up to $ 5,000 per calendar year and a maximum of three during an athlete’s lifetime.

This year, however, after being unable to administer a prize to a promising judoka in 2020 due to the global coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to 2020, the selection committee decided to offer four scholarships. of $ 2,500. each, providing direct financial assistance to the four women of the United States Olympic and Paralympic judo teams.

“These Olympic Games are historic for many reasons,” says Jean Kanokogi, PhD, daughter of the award’s namesake, Rusty Kanokogi, and member of the award’s selection committee. “Judo is returning to its native country, and for the very first time men and women will compete together in a mixed event. Sport has come so far, yet our female athletes still struggle to get the financial support for the travel and training they need to represent their country on the international stage. ”

Jean said, “Rusty thought these athletes trained for the chance to represent the United States, so having the opportunity to help them is an honor.”

According to Kanokogi, the awards committee was devastated when heavyweight Nina Cutro-Kelly (Albany, NY / Selma, Texas / Universal Judo / Universite de Pennes – Pennes, France / over 78 kg female) qualified for the Games last week and turned to crowdfunding to raise the funds she needed to offset her travel and training costs for the competition so she could focus on Tokyo.

Cutro-Kelly, at the age of 36, will be the oldest American Judo Olympian in the history of the sport in 57 years of Olympic history. She juggled three jobs, working over 70 hours a week, while training full time to get to the Olympics. In the first seven days, her GoFundMe campaign, run by former USA teammate Carrie Chandler, raised just under half of her goal of $ 10,000 to help support Cutro-Kelly as she is heading towards the Tokyo 2021 Games.

Cutro-Kelly and Nefeli Papdakis, 22, secured spots on the Olympic team as part of the sport’s reallocation process, joining previously qualified Olympians in 2016, Angelica Delgado, 52kg, and Colton Brown, 90kg. Maria Liana Mutia, 57 Kg, will represent Team USA in Paralympic Judo.

“Our athletes need financial support,” says Kanokogi. “Other countries support their Olympians by training, traveling, all expenses paid. These women need the money. Rusty has continuously raised funds for underfunded female athletes and now we have the opportunity to help provide additional support. This is only possible thanks to the generosity of the Richard and Pamela Ader Foundation and friends of Rusty – Rusty’s legacy of equality in judo to which my mother has dedicated her life – breaking the glass ceiling for women in sport and life in America and around the world.

Rusty has dedicated her fifty-year career to the advancement and equality of women in judo. She reached the seventh degree black belt level during her lifetime, making her the highest ranked American woman in sports. His thesis, Stand up and fight, which she co-wrote with her daughter, Jean Kanokogi, PhD before her death in 2009, was released on June 1, 2021 and is currently available in hardcover and ebook formats from retailers worldwide.

Stand Up and Fight: Memories of Rena “Rusty” Kanokogi, Mother of Women’s Judo

In 1959, Rusty’s well-deserved first place medal was snatched from her because she was a woman. She fought in a judo championship against a man and won, but when the judges found out her gender, they stripped her of her title. Women were not allowed. From that point on, Rusty had a new goal: to make sure that no woman would ever suffer such indignity again! The wish sparked a fifty-year career fighting for equality – a tireless battle she would lead until the Olympics.

With her unique, raw, unfiltered and humorous voice, Rusty tells the tales of her remarkable life and journey from the hectic streets of Coney Island, Brooklyn, to the offices of politics, powerful and persuasive, where she has established herself as a major force in the world of women’s rights and the sport of judo, ensuring the inclusion of women on the international stage. Rusty’s memoir is a love story filled with passion and righteousness – for his sport, his family, and his way of life as a judoka.

Often referred to as a trailblazer, Rusty was an unsung hero in the struggle to give women voice and power, in life and in sport. She saw no human limits, only possibilities. The establishment said “no” to her, but “no” was not in her vocabulary. Instead, Rusty fought like hell and won.

In his own words, Rusty has decided to be “the hammer”, not the nail.

Théa Chard
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