Thank you Janet Fox

Janet and her amazing work at Rothwell Judo Club

 After almost five decades, Rothwell Judo Club has closed. “We were open up until the council closed us during the pandemic”.  Over its time the club has supported hundreds of people within their Judo journey. Janet Fox has been at the forefront of the club’s success, and she had loved every moment of coaching Rothwell Judo Club. Recently recognised with a Lifetime Award for her contribution to British Judo as well as for her efforts as Senior Coach at Rothwell Judo Club by Yorkshire and Humberside Division of the British Judo Association.

Janet’s coaching career started in 1976 when she started to help at Rothwell Judo Club – she soon started to take over all the coaching there! 1995 Janet gained her level 3 coaching and soon moved up the coaching ranks! Started as a leader at Rothwell then to club coach and then finally senior club coach. “There’s not many about in the women’s side,” said Janet.

Janet Fox and Judo

Janet started Judo around 1963 – 1965 when she was 8 years old. “I was getting bullied tremendously at school and when I watched the original avengers with Dianna Rigg and she did a Judo move, I wanted to be able to throw someone without hurting them” Janet. Her parents found a local club where she enjoyed it! She joined her first club which was based in a derelict church in Leeds – she enjoyed every moment! She quickly moved up the ranks and joining the national team. Training with the national team at Leeds Athletic Institute, a well-known club in the country. Joined Rothwell Judo Club as a member part of the national woman’s club allowed her to go for free practice if she brought her own partners, she then took over running the club in about 1976 as a role of coaching.

1974, Janet joined the national squad and then qualifying as a coach two years later in 1976. Training with the national squad was an amazing achievement and one that she enjoyed. “Trained with the national team for 2 – 2.5 years where I came number 4 in the squad and then number 2 in the under 52 kilo class”. Becoming a coach in 1976 and never looked back. “I wanted to stop competing when I was at the top”. Coaching was something that Janet enjoyed so much, she had ideas of other youngsters enjoying Judo what encouraged her to start coaching. “If the kids enjoyed it then I enjoyed it” always encouraging her students to enjoy every moment of Judo. Many of her students was from low income or disadvantage backgrounds and this is where Janet wanted Rothwell Judo Club to be a place of enjoyment for the children regardless of their backgrounds. She encouraged her students to donate old kit that they outgrew so other members can donate as much as they could afford to buy the donated kit. She still sees one of her old students who is now in his 40’s – if he didn’t get join Rothwell Judo Club then his life would have taken a negative turn.

Neighbour and friend, Tony Wilcox, has known Janet for over 10 years when his children started Judo at 5 years old, but stopped Judo when they were in high school; they have started Judo again when they attended university. Janet has always been great with children and had a lot of children starting Judo at the age of 5 and 6 years old. However, due to covid and with Rothwell club being so small, that was what closed us. Tony mentioned that Janet has been running Rothwell club for “what seems like forever” maybe around 20-30 years. Janet has always been really involved with grassroot levels by getting students to start with her at Rothwell from a young age (around 5/6 years old) and encouraging her students to progress onto other, bigger Judo clubs when they are around 14 and 15 years old. Tony said that “Rothwell club was never about winning medals but just to have fun and enjoy Judo” but Janet did encourage her students to progress to bigger clubs that are more dedicated to attending competitions and winning medals. “The club operated two nights a week and it would fluctuate with attendee’s dependant on the night. Some nights could see around 6-8 students and then other nights could see up to 16 students attending”. Janet did take student representing Rothwell Judo Club to Yorkshire Judo Championships that was held in Bradford; some of her students came home with medals and achieved success at the Yorkshire Judo Championships.