battles began with the '77 Maccabiah Games, when she threatened to get a court
injunction that would prevent the entire U.S. delegation from participating
unless she, as coach, and three American women players were allowed to compete.
Finally, they were permitted to participate—at their own expense. She tried to
smuggle her sport into the '80 Olympics and was told that women's judo had to
have a world championship first. O.K., I'll have one, Kanokogi decided. She
needed a $50,000 guarantee to get American AAU backing—and a brain transplant
for even considering it, she was told—and the showdown came with her pointing
fingers around the AAU meeting room, red-faced with rage, wildly waving two
envelopes she said contained sponsors' guarantees for the $50,000.
us," they demanded.
"What do you
want me to do, carry $50,000 in cash around?" she bellowed. "If you
turn this down, women's judo will die and it will be on all of your
actually have the 50 grand?" she says today. "Who knows?"
signed a form saying she would be responsible for any litigation or debts, the
AAU grudgingly agreed to sanction it in 1980. With an overhead of $180,000 to
stage the event at the Felt Forum in New York, she was risking bankruptcy and
her house for a sport few even knew existed. For nine months she was on the
telephone from dawn to midnight to raise money. She charged $25,000 on her
American Express card, had a friend risk her job to send messages all over the
world on her company's Telex, lured friends to her house and held them hostage
until they had typed a couple of dozen letters.
hungry?" she would shout at her husband and the two children from her
second marriage. "There's the refrigerator!"
And, somehow, she
brought together 149 athletes from 27 countries, with about a thousand people
in attendance each of the two days. Women's world championships are now a
regular event every second year.
Next she filed a
sex-discrimination complaint against the U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Judo
Inc., the sport's mostly male governing body, for not allowing women's judo in
the '81 National Sports Festival. A few days after the story hit the
newspapers, the door suddenly opened and funding of women's judo finally
healthy community has its Kanokogis, a few restless ones whose agitation forces
the whole group to migrate to new ideas or lands. And inevitably the group will
resent them, no matter how fertile the new ideas or lands, simply because they
Kanokogi's sport was on the move, U.S. Judo Inc. replaced her in the job she'd
held as national coach from 1976 to 1980, when no one had 5¢ or five minutes
for women's judo, naming two men as coaches. "It ripped my guts out,"
she says. She paid her way into the National Sports Festival and felt her big
body riddled with cold stares.