Six athletes of Menomonee Judo Club will participate in IBSA Paralympic World Championships in Odilevas, Portugal

Bob Lefevere

This is a text by Brett Wolf of the Menomonee Judo Club which is an SNJU registered club in the USA. The Board of SNJU can only add to Brett’s enthusiasm, and wish the players of Menomonee Judo Club the best of luck in Portugal!

The Menomonee Judo Club is very excited and honored to announce that next week, six of our athletes with visual impairment will be competing at the IBSA Paralympic World Championships in Odilevas, Portugal. The World Judo Championships are the first of six qualifying events for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Paralympic Judo is specifically geared towards athletes with varying levels of visual impairment. In 2012, Menomonee Judo was named the Paralympic Judo National Training Site, the only club with that distinction in the United States.

The six players represents the most World Team members in 2018 for any Judo club in the country. Not bad for what’s supposed to be a small, mom and pop type shop on a quiet, residential street in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago. The six World Team members are also an all time record for Menomonee Judo, eclipsing the five players that the club sent to the 2015 IBSA World Games, held in Seoul, Korea (Sarah Chung +70kg, Angela Geis +70kg, Robert Kim 66kg, Howard Wilson 100kg and Robert Anderson +100kg). Along with Nefeli Papadakis (78kg) and Natalija Stanojevic (+78kg), who competed at the Junior World Judo Championships in Nassau, Bahamas, last month and Paralympic Judo legend, Antonio Tenorio, who will be fighting for Brazil at the IBSA World Championships, the number of Menomonee Judo members competing at World Championships this fall, rises to an astounding 9!

Here is a list of our 2018 Para World Team members (including their weight divisions) –

IBSA World Judo Championships
November 16th – 18th
Odilevas, Portugal
1. Liana Mutia 57kg
2. Sarah Chung +70kg
3. Ron Hawthorne 60kg
4. Robert Kim 66kg
5. Howard Wilson 100kg
6. Robert Anderson +100kg

Ron (2012) and Sarah (2016) are attempting to make their second Paralympic Team. While Liana (who also represents El Toro Judo Club), Howard, Robert and Robert are looking to represent Team USA at the Paralympic Games for the first time.

Three of the athletes (Robert Anderson, Howard Wilson and Sarah Chung) have spent quite a bit of time supplementing their training at our Paralympic Judo programs, run through the Chicago Park District. Since 2010, we’ve partnered with the Park District to give hundreds of athletes an opportunity to learn Judo all over the city. Currently we’re offering Paralympic Judo classes each week at Armour Square Park (3309 S Shields Ave, 60616) on Saturday and Horner Park (2741 W Montrose Ave, 60618) on Thursday. These programs have been vital to our growth and reach in the Paralympic Sport community. On top of our programs for participants with visual impairment and physical disabilities, the Chicago Park District and Menomonee Judo also offer weekly Judo classes for Military Veterans – Tuesday at Armour Square Park 3309 S Shields Ave, 60616 and athletes with intellectual disabilities – Wednesday at McGuane Park 2901 S Poplar Ave, 60608 and Saturday at Independence Park 3945 N Springfield Ave, 60618.

With the great honor of representing Team USA at a World Championship level event, comes a large financial responsibility that falls directly on each athlete and their club. The National Governing Body of Judo here in the United States offers World Team members little in the way of financial assistance. As a club, we do our best to help our players with as much support and funding as possible. Menomonee Judo has such a large group of athletes competing at an elite level (nearly 20 World Team members and 25 Pan American Team members since 2010), we can only offer each athlete a somewhat limited amount of money to offset the considerable travel and accommodation costs incurred.

The Menomonee Judo Club is part of the Menomonee Club for Boys and Girls, which is registered as a 501(c)(3) organization here in Illinois. Menomonee has been offering countless athletic and artistic programs to literally thousands of children (and adults) from around the city for over 70 years. Judo has been a staple at the Menomonee Club since the 1970’s. The Judo program, which was initially run by legendary Judo figure, Sensei Henry Okamura, has become one of the largest and most successful martial art dojos in the United States. Menomonee offers nine Judo classes at two locations each week. The classes take place on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

We want to wish all of our athletes the best of luck in Portugal this week. Although the competition will be fierce, we know that they’re up for the challenge. .

Go Menomonee Judo!

By Brett L Wolf
Head Instructor, Menomonee Judo Club: Paralympic National Training Site
USOC National Developmental Coach of the Year – 2015
5th Degree Black Belt
International Gold Level Coach USA Judo
Chicago, Illinois