|Born||January 1, 1934|
|Died||November 6, 2018 (aged 84)|
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|Other names||Kastriget Mehdi, Robert Mehdi|
|Rank||9th degree red belt in Judo Kodokan certified|
|Notable students||Rickson Gracie ,Jorge Pereira,Wallid Ismail|
Kastriot "Georges" Mehdi (1934 in Cannes, France – November 6, 2018 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) was a Brazilian judoka of French ascendance, considered one of the most prominent practitioners of judo in Brazil.
Born in Cannes, France, George originally came to Brazil on a vacation in 1949 and did not return. A trained judoka, he went to the jiu-jitsu school of Carlos Gracie, but left it after some time due to differences with the Gracie family.
According to Armando Wriedt, in his youth in Brazil, Mehdi "was lazy and undisciplined".
Armando describes his reason for going to Japan as such.
″Armando: Yes, so anyway, one day, he did something different. A guy from the police caught his attention. “Hey, who are you?” He punched him and the guy fell to the ground. So, what did the guy do? He called his buddies over.
Armando: All three came over. Who did this here? Get that guy, arrest the guy! They really beat up George, and I don’t even want to talk about it because it’s sad. They told him that if he did it again, you won’t be back, you will be dead. Well, he was scared. So, what did he do?
Armando: He looked for Hermani from judo and said, “Hermani can you . . . So, Hermani suggested, you know what? George, I am going to take you to Japan. I can, because I’ve got friends in Japan and you can spend some time there…".
Learning under all Japan champion and Kyuzo Mifune trainee Yasuichi Matsumoto, Mehdi trained for five years at the Tenri University in Nara, meeting names like world middleweight champion Isao Okano and the great Masahiko Kimura. He actually had already met Matsumoto in Brazil, where Yasuichi had seen him do judo while on a tour of the world. He provided Mehdi with tuition room and board and spending money for 5 years. Additionally Mehdi trained at the Kodokan and Chuo University. The training in Japan only lasted 6 months as George went to attend his sick mother. Georges spent a total of 10 years in Japan and taught Judo in a high school in Japan, probably the first non Japanese to do so. When he died Mehdi was a 9th dan in Judo.
Judo champion Okano said of Mehdi that "if you took all the knowledge of all the instructors in this hall [the Olympics], it would not equal the knowledge of Sensei Mehdi".
Mehdi was referred to as the best judoka in Brazil, whom the Gracie family refused to face in judo competition. This was after the loss of George Gracie to Euclydes Hatem fearing that it might have a bad effect on their growing reputation. Georges Mehdi was challenged by the Gracie family to fight the BJJ practitioner, and Helio's student, Pedro Hemetério, that was nicknamed "Okra Man" for his victory over the Judoka Akio Hyoshiara. Georges did not accept the challenge, stating that; "I don't want to fight Hemetério, because a Judoka is not on equal terms with a Jiu-jitsu fighter. While one is a sport, the other is a real fight." He was the Brazilian champ for seven years straight. He competed in the 5th world championships. At the age of 32 he was already a 4th dan in Judo. He received a silver medal and a bronze medal in the Pan American games in 1963 and 1967 respectively.
Mehdi was a witness to the Masahiko Kimura vs. Hélio Gracie fight and Helio's subsequent hospitalization, He stated that, unlike what the Gracie side claimed, Kimura was no giant, but about 5'6 and 185 lbs.
He was fluent in French, English, Japanese, and Portuguese.
Sensei Mehdi died November 6, 2018 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, aged 84.
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