Obituary: Anthony Gaetano Vassallo

British Judo is saddened to hear of the passing of Anthony Gaetano Vassallo on 27th February 2021.

Thank you to Anthony’s sister, June, for providing the following obituary:

Anthony Vassallo passed away on the afternoon of 27th February after watching his beloved West Ham.

He continued the family business in Hatton Garden as a craftsman and goldsmith, following the family trade.  It was this he continued till his death.

Later in life he found love with his life, partner Sarah Wood, who cherished him till his death this year.

He is survived by his three adult children.

Anthony was a good man with a beautiful soul.  Born in Stepney, East London on 28th March 1956 to Egyptian/Maltese born Jeweller Gaetano Bartholomew Vassallo and  East Londoner Eileen Ada Vassallo.  He was a joy from the start.  13 months later his sister June was born, both were beautifully mischievous growing up, causing havoc wherever they went. 10 years later the family added Gregory Jeremy Vassallo, who idolised his big brother Anthony.

Anthony was a sports fanatic playing all kinds of sports with his Moness Street, Poplar friends which remained his friends to this day.  This lively sport mad boy would wear out his trousers as he embraced every sport going.

His passion for football meant he played for the school and various clubs where he could.  The family moved from Poplar to Forest Gate where he attended Forest Gate High School, during this time he played for the school football team. Also, at this time he began Judo which made him a world champion.

Billy Tye, a life-long friend recalled “As part of the Moness Street Gang in Poplar, Ant was always Ant or if we were talking posh ‘Antnee’.”

They lived and played together  for the first 10-12 years of their lives. When not at school the whole day was spent outside playing in the street or somewhere nearby they could find a patch of grass.   Football was their main passion – whenever they had a ball or anything else to kick around – running races were a common thing around the block of Portree or Oban street. Sometimes they ventured out a bit further like playing hide and seek over The Hills (don’t think of the Lake District or the Sound of Music) it was a bombed-out piece of wasteland running parallel to the East India Dock Road.

Bill Francis who has been Anthony’s friend from the beginning of his Judo career remembered, “I first met Anthony Gaetano Vassallo in 1973 at the Hartley Centre East Ham as I wanted to join the Judo club they were running, one of the first people I met was Anthony (Tony) I noticed straight away what an infectious smile he had and an engaging personality. Little did I know what he would achieve in the Judo world in years to come.”