Keith ‘Tiger’ Brown is celebrating his 50th year of coaching judo and still going strong on the mat, writes Donna Richardson.
Tiger had his first taste of judo back in 1958, aged 23, following a successful boxing career – a year when Jerry Lewis was still riding high in the charts with Great Balls of Fire!
He achieved his first Dan in the early sixties at Crystal Palace in the days when judo was a relatively new sport and gradings could only be done in London. He used to hitch-hike his way down to the Budokwai club. He achieved his 7th Dan some 15 years ago and would like to gain his 8th Dan at the age of 76!
In 1962, he started coaching at Sheffield Judo Club and then took over the running of Rotherham Judo Club (renamed Rotherham Tigers in his honour) in 1976 as Chief Instructor. In this capacity he has coached numerous students to black belt level and helped others become fully qualified coaches with the BJA.
Friends believe he has probably trained most judoka in the South Yorkshire area. Andrew Parton, one of his former students, who has known him over 30 years, said:
“He has just always been there teaching people in the area. He taught me from the age of 14 and even inspired me to open my own club.
“He is such a character, always full of stories. Judo is in his blood.” He earned the nickname ‘Tiger’ after having a tattoo of the magnificent beast on his chest at the age of 15.
Over his competitive career Tiger has fought judo legends such as BJA’s President George Kerr, who he says gave him his cauliflower ears!
Other highlights include coming fourth in the 1964 Olympic trials and becoming national veterans champion 7 times. Additionally he is a National Class A referee of over 30 years.
The class at Rotherham “Tigers” Judo Club, which Tiger coaches with Joe Johnson, has both junior and adult classes on Saturday afternoons, from 1.30pm until 3pm and 3pm to 4pm at the Rotherham Leisure Complex on Effingham Street, Rotherham, S65 1BL. To find out more, email keith on firstname.lastname@example.org
A version of this story also appears in the Worksop Guardian.