Black History Month was founded over 30 years ago in the UK with the central ethos to celebrate the contributions made by black communities and individuals.
We take a look back and recognise some of the achievements made by British Judoka over the years that have contributed to the sport we love.
Three-time Olympian Densign White was 1987 World Championship bronze medallist in Essen. He claimed three European medals and finished fifth at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles and Seoul.
Upon his retirement, Densign chose to pursue a career in sports administration, serving 11 years as the Chairman of the British Judo Association, from 2001 to 2012. He then moved on to serve internationally as the European Judo Union Head Sports Director and has acted as an executive member of the British Olympic Association.
In 2018, Densign was elected to the Council of Sport Integrity Global Alliance, an organisation founded to tackle corruption in sport by industry stakeholders. Densign is now the Chairman of Sporting Equals, which works to promote ethnic diversity in UK Sport, a role that has recently seen him appointed MBE in the 2020 Birthday Honours list for services to Diversity in Sport.
Arthur Mapp was Team GB’s first black judo Olympic medallist when he won bronze in the open weight category at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Born in British Honduras (now Belize), at the time of his Olympic success, Arthur was serving with the British Army as a Corporal in the Royal Army Pay Corps.
Arthur later went on to be Team GB Judo Team Manager for the Seoul and Barcelona Olympic Games.
Multiple European representative, Simone Callender, was crowned Commonwealth Champion in 2002. Simone is now Technical director of the Commonwealth Judo Association. Simone was Judo Competitions Manager at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and was responsible for the smooth running of the three-day judo competition.
At the Los Angeles Olympics, Kerrith Brown won bronze in the -71kg category, defeating Hidetoshi Nakanishi (JPN) in the bronze medal match.
Kerrith was also bronze medallist at the 1987 World Championships in Essen. He later went on to become Chairman of the British Judo Association and it was under his leadership that the BJA opened its doors to the Centre of Excellence at the University of Wolverhampton.
Dennis Stewart claimed bronze at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games in the 95kg category. Dennis is now a British Judo Elite Performance Coach at the Centre of Excellence.
Craig Fallon was the last British Judoka to be crowned World Champion, a title he held alongside his European crown, and one of only two men to ever hold the two titles simultaneously. The man behind Craig’s success was his coach, friend and mentor, Fitzroy Davies. Fitz has played a key role in the development of many British Judoka over the years, most recently the 2019 European Junior Champion, Kelly Petersen-Pollard.
Nekoda Smythe-Davis has had a fantastic career to date that has seen her win two World Championship medals, silver in Baku, 2018, and bronze in Budapest, 2017. Nekoda was a volunteer at the London 2012 Olympics before she was selected to represent Team GB at the Rio Games in 2016.
Peter Cousins was World Championship silver medallist in 2007, a performance which helped secure his spot at the Beijing Games in 2008 – his Olympic debut. In addition to his World silver, Peter also claimed bronze at the European Championships in 2006.
Sharon Lee was the 1989 World Championship silver medallist. She also won the European title in 1990 in the Open Weight category as well as bronze in 1988 in the +72kg.
British heavyweight judoka Elvis Gordon competed at three consecutive Olympics: Los Angeles, 1984, Seoul, 1988, and Barcelona, 1992. Elvis won silver at the World Championships in 1987 before claiming the European title in 1988. Elvis also won two bronze medals at the European Championships in 1985 and 1992.
Sandra Bradshaw has claimed gold, silver and bronze medals at European Championships. She was crowned European Champion in 1985 after taking bronze in 1984 and claimed silver in 1986.
Two-time Olympian Ashley McKenzie won the European U23 title in 2010 and has claimed two bronze medals at the European Championships, 2013 and 2018, in addition to multiple World Cup, Grand Slam and Grand Prix medals.
Behind all these great achievements are teams of volunteers and families that work tirelessly, devoting their time and efforts to the sport of judo.