Celebrating Black History Month 2023

In the intricate tapestry of martial arts, judo stands as a discipline that not only demands physical strength and technique but also embodies the values of respect, discipline, and perseverance. As we delve into Black History Month, it is a prime opportunity to recognise and celebrate the black athletes who have left an indelible mark on the world of judo past and present. These trailblazers have not only mastered the art of throws and grapples but pave the way for future generations of judokas. Join us on this journey as we pay homage to the black pioneers who have not just excelled within the dojo but have also championed equality and diversity in the spirit of judo.

Scroll down to see some of our sports icons…

Densign White

Densign White, a three-time Olympian, secured the bronze medal at the 1987 World Championships in Essen. He earned three European medals and achieved a commendable fifth-place finish in both the Los Angeles and Seoul Olympic Games. Following his retirement from competitive judo, Densign transitioned into sports administration, dedicating 11 years to chairing the British Judo Association from 2001 to 2012. Subsequently, he expanded his influence internationally by serving as the Head Sports Director of the European Judo Union and as an executive member of the British Olympic Association.

In 2018, Densign White added a new dimension to his career by joining the Council of Sport Integrity Global Alliance, an organization committed to combatting corruption in sports. Notably, he currently holds the position of Chairman at Sporting Equals, an organization focused on promoting ethnic diversity in UK Sport. His significant contributions to diversity in sports were recognized in the 2020 Birthday Honours list, where he was appointed MBE for his services to Diversity in Sport.

Densign White Portrat

Neoka Smythe-Davis

Nekoda Smythe-Davis has enjoyed a remarkable career thus far, marked by her achievement of two World Championship medals – a silver in Baku in 2018 and a bronze in Budapest in 2017. Prior to her selection as a representative for Team GB at the Rio Games in 2016, Nekoda had contributed as a volunteer at the London 2012 Olympics.

Peter Cousins

Achieving a silver medal at the 2007 World Championship, a feat that played a crucial role in earning his spot at the 2008 Beijing Games – marking his Olympic debut, Peter also secured a bronze at the 2006 European Championships.

Elvis Gordon

Elvis Gordon, the British heavyweight judoka, participated in three consecutive Olympics: Los Angeles in 1984, Seoul in 1988, and Barcelona in 1992. In 1987, Elvis secured a silver medal at the World Championships, followed by clinching the European title in 1988. Additionally, he earned two bronze medals at the European Championships in 1985 and 1992.

Elvis Gordon

As we celebrate Black History Month it’s crucial to acknowledge the impact and contributions of these black athletes in all areas – not just within Judo but sport as a whole.

Photos provided by David Finch – see here