It is with great sadness that British Judo reports the passing of Francis (Frank) Leybourne, a well-known judoka, national referee, coach and key figure in helping to establish the Welsh Judo Association.
Francis’ son and 3rd Dan Julian has penned the following tribute:
He started his judo career fifty years ago and won his black belt in London after fighting a line up that including two 6′ 6″ bodyguards to King Hussein of Jordan
He studied under the great Kenshiro Abbey Sensei and Matsutaro Otani Sensei and ran many successful judo clubs developing several Welsh champions and changed the lives of many people in the Caldicot, Chepstow and Newport area – many of these would have had a life of crime since our clubs were always in tough neighbourhoods and some of these people went on to become judo coaches themselves and generations more as a result
He taught Bob Edmunds, Mike McGuire, Jack Pugh, Terry Pugh, Nigel Simmons and many others including my mum Glennys Leybourne, my sisters Hilary Leybourne and Francesca Leybourne and myself of which three of us were all black belts and regularly winning gold medals at Welsh Judo championship events
My Dad proudly came with me twice to the Commonwealth Judo Championships in January 2012 and this was a proud moment to meet his heroes such as George Kerr and many others
His close friends and judo colleagues included not only the above named but also the great Terry Edmunds, Alan Petherbridge, Dai Smith, Dave Watts, Glyn Farthing, John Perrins, Dai Ball, John Reynolds, Ossie Thomas, Doug Collets and many others who helped shape Welsh Judo
Even when in his eighties he played golf, weight trained, skied, swam, played squash, table tennis, snooker and rode his mountain bike. He was also a gifted poet, artist and loved to play and listen to the guitar of which he was my own greatest and only fan!
My father was an inspiration to people in judo and who positively influenced everyone around him including family, friends and acquaintances – in all the years I have never heard him say a bad word about anyone and he saw only the good in people.
The funeral service will be on the 17 January at St Mary’s Church, Caldicot at 1300 hours followed by a small service at the Forest of Dean Crematorium