Grappling All the Way to the Olympics

For the first time in world history, this year every country competing in the Olympics has a female athlete on its team. This historic moment was made possible when Saudi Arabia, Brunei, and Qatar permitted women to be included in their delegations. Although the Saudi clergy believes that exercising is contrary to a woman’s natural role, two weeks ago they caved to pressure from human rights groups and broke with tradition allowing Sarah Attar to compete in the 800 meter run and Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani in Judo.

And whom does Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani have to thank for this opportunity? A Semitic sister named Rena Kanokogi.

Rena or “Rusty” Kanokogi (born Rena Glickman) known as “the mother of women’s Judo,” worked tirelessly for the sport to become part of the Olympics. In 1988 she finally saw her efforts realized when the International Olympic Committee voted to include Judo in the games, and she went to Seoul as coach of the first U.S. women’s team.


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