Kenji Yamada (judoka)

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Kenji Yamada
Nationality United States

Kenji Yamada (1924[1]–2014) was a competitive judoka who was a two-time U.S. National Judo champion.[2]

Yamada was born in Sunnyside, Utah, but was raised in Japan. In 1941, he returned to the United States to rejoin his father in Seattle, Washington. A year later, after Executive Order 9066 was signed, he was imprisoned with other Americans of Japanese descent at the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho.[1] Yamada graduated from Franklin High School in Seattle and later, the University of Washington.[3]

Yamada won the 1954 and 1955 US Judo National Championships[2] where he competed at 150 lbs.[4] In 1954, he lost to judoka Gene Lebell (who outweighed Yamada by about 50 pounds) in the open division finals in 1954 due to a judge's decision.[5][6]

Yamada was a member of the Seattle Dojo[7] and was one of the key people in spreading judo around the United States.[8] Yamada obtained his 8th degree black belt in judo.[2] Yamada died on April 18, 2014.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Japanese American Internee Data File: Kenji Yamada". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "The North American Post – Kenji Yamada, National Judo Champion, Passes". Archived from the original on 2015-04-19. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  3. ^ "Kenji Yamada Obituary - Seattle, WA - The Seattle Times". The Seattle Times.
  4. ^ Hickok, R. (1977). New encyclopedia of sports. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-028705-1. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  5. ^ Kano, Cichorei (2014-04-27). "Passing of Seattle's Yamada Kenji, Kōdōkan 8th dan". Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  6. ^ Udel, J.C. (2013). The Film Crew of Hollywood: Profiles of Grips, Cinematographers, Designers, a Gaffer, a Stuntman and a Makeup Artist. McFarland, Incorporated Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4766-0226-4. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  7. ^ Franks, J.S. (2010). Crossing Sidelines, Crossing Cultures: Sport and Asian Pacific American Cultural Citizenship. University Press Of America. ISBN 978-0-7618-4744-1. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  8. ^ Nishioka, H. (2000). Judo: Heart & Soul. Literary links to the Orient. Ohara Publications. ISBN 978-0-89750-137-8. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  9. ^ "Memorial service for Kenji Yamada - USJF.COM". Archived from the original on 2016-02-06.