May 9, 1961
Pinar del Río, Cuba
|Died||July 6, 2009
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|University||University of Minnesota|
|Representing the United States|
|High School Nationals|
|Pacific Rim Championships|
|1987 Colorado Springs||Heavyweight|
|US Olympic Trials|
|1988 Colorado Springs||Heavyweight|
|1996 Colorado Springs||Heavyweight|
|United States Senior Nationals|
|1979 San Francisco||Heavyweight|
Rene Capo (May 9, 1961 – July 6, 2009) was a judoka from the United States who competed in the 1988 Summer Olympics and the 1996 Summer Olympics. Capo immigrated to the United States from Cuba as a young boy. Though he won several judo championships in high school, Capo took a four-year break from the sport to attend the University of Minnesota. After college, Capo went on to qualify for two United States Olympics teams, could not compete as an alternate in another due to a back injury, and narrowly missed making the 2008 team. In 2008, Capo was diagnosed with lung cancer, which caused his death the following year.
Capo immigrated to the United States from Pinar del Río, Cuba in 1962, when he was still an infant, and grew up in Hialeah, Florida. He learned Judo as a member of Florida Judo Kai, under the tutelage of Cuban Champion Reinaldo Montpellier. After graduating from Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School He attended the University of Minnesota, where he played defensive tackle for the Golden Gophers from 1979 to 1982, sharing a team record with four sacks.
At the age of six, Capo competed in his first judo competition, and had won his first tournament by nine. By sixteen, he had become a Grandmaster, and won the Judo high school national championship. By the time of his graduation, Capo had earned a national high school gold medal, and won the United States Senior National title. A classmate recalls how, as a 190-pound junior, Capo pinned Lester Williams, then regarded as possibly the top high school athlete in the nation.
After a four-year break from Judo in which he focused on football and college, Capo won a gold medal at the 1987 Pacific Rim Championships. A year later, he upset a number of highly ranked heavyweights at the US Judo Olympic Trials. At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Capo finished 19th. Capo qualified as the alternate for the 1992 Summer Olympics, but was unable to compete due to severe neck injury. After having surgery on two vertebrae, he made it to the 1996 Summer Olympics, where he was eliminated the first day. From 2005 to 2007, Capo taught judo at the Jason Morris Judo Center in Glenville. He narrowly missed qualifying for the 2008 Summer Olympics, losing to his own student, Kyle Vashkulat. At the 2008 USA Judo Senior National Championships one month later, Capo placed fifth.
In 2008, Capo, a non-smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer, from which he died on July 6, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. At the time, he lived in Naperville, Illinois, where he had moved to earn money selling magazine subscriptions to schools.
- Associated Press (7 July 2009). "Judo Olympian Capo dies at 48". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
- Quinones, David (8 July 2009). "Hialeah's Rene Capo, a two-time Olympian and judo champ, dies at 48". The Miami Herald. The McClatchy Company.
- "Fallece judoca cubano-estadounidense René Capo". Univision (in Spanish). 7 July 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2009.[dead link]
- Youngblood, Kent (8 July 2009). "U nose tackle became judo champ". Star Tribune. Avista Capital Partners. Retrieved 9 July 2009.
- Singelais, Mark (8 July 2009). "Judo Olympian Capo dies". Times Union. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 9 July 2009.[dead link]
- Associated Press (7 July 2009). "Latest Florida Sports". WFOR-TV. CBS. Archived from the original on July 17, 2009. Retrieved 7 July 2009.