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17 October 2014

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George Kerr - Mr Judo's European triumph 1957

George Kerr


In a career which spanned four decades as player, coach and administrator George Kerr established himself as one of the leading figures in the world of judo.

Born in 1937, George had an outstanding record within the sport, regularly representing his country in international contests.

He won the gold medal in the 1957 European Championships in Rotterdam and over the next decade competed regularly in the event, with a great deal of success.

In addition to his 1957 victory, he finished runner-up three more times. In Essen, West Germany in 1962 he was beaten by Anton Geesink of the Netherlands in the final in the "Professional Open" category; the following year he was second to France's Jacques Noris in Geneva, Switzerland, this time in the pro 80kg event. When the championships were held in Rome, Italy, in 1967 professionals no longer had a separate category, and George was runner-up to Vladimir Pokatayev of the Soviet Union in the 80kg category.

In between 1963 and 1967 George twice won bronze medals - in East Berlin in 1964 and again in 1966 when the championships were held in Luxemburg.

He was a two-time winner of the British Open Championship, lifting the title in both 1966 and 1968.

George's expertise was recognised as he achieved one of the highest possible ratings for a judo player, being awarded a 9th Dan. Only one other Briton has ever achieved this feat, only one level beneath the highest possible 10th Dan rating which very few people have ever achieved, with most of those being Japanese.

George Kerr


Following his retirement from competition, George built up an excellent reputation as a coach. He was appointed National Coach to the Austrian team and in that position aided Peter Seisenbracher to win Olympic gold medals in 1984 and 1988, the only British coach to achieve such a double distinction. In addition, he also published a number of books on judo and its techniques.

Kerr's achievements did not stop there. He was a qualified referee, and took charge of Olympic bouts and, as an administrator, had spells as both Chairman and President of the British Judo Association. He was awarded an International Judo Federation Gold Medal in 2003 as recognition of his dedication to judo.

Throughout his career, George, together with his wife Pauline, ran "The Edinburgh Club", a fitness and martial arts club where many of Scotland's top judo players were trained, but it closed its doors in July 2003 when George retired after 40 years service to the sport.

George was named as one of the inaugural members of the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.

Written by: Roy Murray


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