John Keith Obituary

Many thanks to Fred Turner for the obituary


21st November 1928 to 28th March 2016

It is with great sadness that the Eastern Area reports the sad passing of John Keith.

John’s involvement with Judo began in 1946. For decades he was the main driving force in the development of coaching, examining and refereeing in the Eastern Area.

The above few words cannot begin to describe the huge influence that John had on the East and all those he worked with. Indeed, John ‘founded’ the Eastern Area and watched it grow for over 40 years. Striving for improvement and development in such a large and isolated part of the country, John never appeared daunted by the task.

He was Area Coach, Director of Examiners and worked at national level in the development of the coaching scheme introduced by Geof Gleeson. He initiated and promoted girls judo. He instructed Police classes in arrest and control techniques and started Police Judo clubs. He helped enthuse and establish new clubs throughout the Area. He trained and coached Area champions and not least, he trained Fred Turner, from Wisbech, to BJA international and Olympic squad level.

John was a man with great determination and inner strength, but this was always tempered with humanity. He was a clear thinker, a great organiser, negotiator and motivator; he was open minded and willing to listen to the views of others.

He was a selfless man who always put the development of others before his own aspirations. He never sought accolades, declining offers of promotion, and many of those he coached surpassed him in grade. Somewhere, in one of the old orange top Judo magazines, he is described as ‘the quiet man from the East’, and he was: quiet and calm but determined that Judo should offer to all the life long benefits that Jigaro Kano held dear.

It is hard to comprehend the number of lives that John and his legacy have touched. There is hardly a person in Eastern Area Judo today who has not been inspired, directly or indirectly, by John. He was a man who was not motivated by fame or fortune but by what he could do for others. He understood and lived by Jigaro Kano’s principle of Jita Kyoei – mutual benefit – a true Judo man.