The Richmond News interviews two legendary local trios from the football and judo worlds
Saturday will be a special day for all of Richmondians, who have been part of the city’s sports through decades of playing, leading and coaching.
In a ceremony at the Gateway Theatre, a total of eight outstanding individuals and two teams will be recognized for induction into the Richmond Sports Hall of Fame.
The three of them bond for life through a love of judo and a Steveston connection dating back nearly 60 years.
In fact, in the 1960s, Rick Yodogawa, 75, and Jim Kojima, 84, first taught club president Alan Sakai, 67, as teachers (coaches) of the famous Steveston Judo Club.
All three have illustrious careers in the martial arts field, with resumes that include appearances at the national and Olympic levels, as well as decades of dedicated coaching and volunteering.
Learn to “Crash” Early
In fact, Yodogawa recalls his early experiences in coaching at the club, when he started “throwing” a 9-year-old Sakai to the floor to introduce him to the art of “breaking through”.
“My teacher (in 1953) kept throwing me and throwing me,” Yodogawa said of his judo studies at Steveston when he was 12 years old.
“I said ‘Why do you keep doing this?’ He said ‘You have to accept the breakthrough. If you want to be strong, you have to learn to accept it.
“That’s what I said to Alan (about 10 years later) when he asked ‘Why do you keep doing this?'”
When asked about those early days, Sakai smiled and said: “You don’t forget that. That’s how you learn to fall, so you don’t get hurt.
“If you don’t like pain, you can’t keep practicing judo.”
It had the desired effect and Sakai represented Canada at the 1972 Olympics.
Wall of Fame sensing is better than being “graded”
Regarding being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Yodogawa joked that he’s been trying to “level up” (a belt in judo) for years, so being inducted is “a good thing.”
“It’s better than a promotion,” he added.
Kojima said it was a “huge honor,” before humbly adding that he thought there were “many other deserving people” who could be inducted.
He pointed to the calligraphy on the wall in the lobby of the Steveston Martial Arts Center—written by the founder of judo, which means “As long as you work hard and persevere, you can achieve your goals.”
He nodded to Sakai and Yodogawa, saying, “These two have won the” induction.
The return of the football trio
Another legendary trio honored on Saturday were brothers Bill and Bruce Hadow and local football legend Bernie Greer.
Glier and Haddows both went to Richmond High School in the ’70s, won high school football championships, then coached in Richmond and played against each other at Hugh Boyd.
The Gliers have seven years of CFL careers, including a Grey Cup win with the BC Lions in 1985, while the Haddow brothers have 82 years of successful high school football coaching experience.
Hearing him being inducted, Greer said it was “certainly an honor,” adding that being able to stay in Richmond while playing in high school and in the CFL, as well as coaching, was something he was “very proud of.” “
Meanwhile, Beal said he was “shocked” to learn he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, noting that “we don’t do what we do for any recognition or anything.
“When you’re playing and coaching, you don’t think about that, you just do it because it’s something you love to do.
“A few years have passed, and after a while, someone somewhere thinks you’ve done something important, so it’s nice to be recognized.”
Bruce said he was surprised by the membership, but recalled fondly the three of them playing together in high school in the ’70s.
“It’s amazing to be standing here today and being honored together… We’re all going back. We’re really looking forward to Saturday.”
The other 2021 Richmond Sports Hall of Fame inductees (delayed last year due to the pandemic) are:
• Albert Nishi – 33 years coaching multiple sports in Richmond
• Mike Charlton – coached multiple school sports over the years, including winning multiple championships
• 1994-1999 Richmond Eagles Women’s Hockey Team – “Six Time” Provincial Champions
• 1975-1983 Richmond Superstar Women’s Soccer Team – “Four-time” National Champion