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Double Olympic Judo Champion Willem Ruska passed away

14 Feb 2015 14:45

   Andre de Heus

Double Olympic Champion Wim Ruska passed away on Saturday. The 7 times Olympic Champion became 74 years old and was among the best judoka ever. In 1972 he won the double Olympic title 93kg and open weight class. He was also double World Champion in 1967 and 1971. He was tremendously strong and was seen as the opponent of Anton Geesink although he was younger.

Born in Amsterdam in 1940  he acted usually in the shadow of Geesink but was extremely successful though. After his successes in Munich he retired and was national coach for a short while. In 2001 he was hit by a brain stroke which caused a huge damage to his voice and was partially imparalised.


Ruska was an icon for Dutch Judo and was taken into the IJF hall of fame in 2013. At the 2009 World Championships in Rotterdam Ruska was awarded by IJF President Marius Vizer for his contribution to judo.

Ruska was born on August 29, 1940 in Amsterdam. During his judo career Ruska was often shaded by Anton Geesink. 
After the successes in Munich, Ruska ended his career and became head coach for a short period. He later achieved success as a club coach. In 2001 the 'Tarzan of the tatami' suffered a brain hemorrhage, which affected his speech and he became partially paralyzed.
Willem Jan Stegeman, president of the Dutch Judo Federation: "With the death of Willem Ruska the judo world loses one of its greatest icons. He has made an unlikely major contribution to judo and the status of the Netherlands as judo nation. Our thoughts go out to his family. "
In 2013, Ruska was inducted into the IJF Hall of Fame in Rio de Janeiro.


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