Wim Ruska

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Wim Ruska
Wim Ruska 1968b.jpg
Wim Ruska in 1968
Personal information
Full name Willem Ruska
Nickname(s) Tarzan of the Tatami
Born (1940-08-29)29 August 1940
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Died 14 February 2015(2015-02-14) (aged 74)
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 94 kg (207 lb)
Sport Judo

Willem "Wim" Ruska (29 August 1940 – 14 February 2015) was a judoka from the Netherlands. He is the only athlete to win two gold medals in Judo in one Olympics – in the heavyweight and absolute categories in 1972.[1]

He started mastering in Judo, learning under Jon Bluming, in 1960 and traveled to Japan for further training. In the 1960s and 1970s he won seven European titles, five in the +93 kg category (1966–67, 1969, 1971–72) and two in the open category (1969 and 1972).[2] He furthermore won two world titles (1967 and 1971) and two Olympic titles.[3] His success at the 1972 Summer Olympics was overshadowed by the Munich massacre that took place days before.[4]

He retired after the 1972 Olympics[1] and later took part in professional wrestling, competing between 1976 and 1980 for the New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Wrestling Federation promotions. He had over 150 pro wrestling matches, in some of which he was the tag team partner of fellow judoka Allen Coage.[5]

In August 1976, Ruska defeated Ivan Gomes in a vale tudo bout in Brazil.[6] Details about the fight are sparse, but it is known that Gomes threw illegal strikes and that the event result was controversial.[7] At the end of the match, Gomes took Ruska's back and tried a rear naked choke, but they became tangled on the ring ropes. While Ruska defended successfully against the choke, the referee Teruo Takahashi noted Gomes's body was positioned half out of the ropes, so he counted him out and declared Willem the winner. Brazilian crowds were infuriated and caused a turmoil, and local newspapers even declared Gomes the winner of the match.[8]

Ruska was a close friend to sambo world champion Chris Dolman, also a Bluming understudy. They had a falling out after Dolman joined Akira Maeda's Fighting Network Rings while Ruska was part of Antonio Inoki's New Japan Pro Wrestling, but they mended it in September 1997, when Inoki visited Holland along with Naoya Ogawa. They stayed in contact until Ruska's death in 2015.[9]

In 2001 Ruska suffered a major stroke which left him physically disabled.[1]

In 2013 he was inducted in the Hall of Fame of the International Judo Federation.[10]

Ruska was admitted to a nursing home in 2014. Ruska died on 14 February 2015 at the age of 74 and was survived by his wife, two children and five grandchildren.[11]



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