For Immediate Release –
Oak Lawn, IL. ( 6/4/11 ):
The time was right to introduce Howard Wilson to the Judo community. Nobody could have guessed the immediate impact he would have. Competing in his first ever Judo tournament, Wilson, a 47 year old former Marine who happens to be visually impaired, took the 16th Tohkon Classic by storm.
Representing not only himself, but the more than 100 visually impaired Judo players active in the Chicagoland area, he gave a glimpse into the future. Competing in two divisions ( Senior Novice -220lbs and Masters -220lbs ), Howard took home gold and silver medals and tons of new fans. He fought a total of seven matches within 90 minutes, a herculean feat for an athlete of any age.
Howard used his wrestling background (he was a sectional qualifier at Romeoville High School) and Military training along with four days of Judo a week to compete successfully with much younger, more experienced opponents. Howard began taking Judo in early January and has enjoyed a meteoric rise. Thanks to a partnership between World Sport Chicago, the Chicago Park District and the Menomonee Judo Club, he is able to train alongside some of the top Judo players in the country.
“I can’t thank my training partners and Sensei’s enough for all of their hard work and dedication to these programs ” said a victorious Wilson after he finished competing. Howard trains on a weekly basis at the clubs located a Norwood Park, Chase Park, Davis Square Park and the Menomonee Judo Club. Head instructor Brett Wolf marvels at his student’s dedication to the sport, ” Howard is a beast ! He gives me every ounce of what he has each and every practice. I’m so proud of him and what he’s accomplished in a short time. “.
Another interesting aspect of Howard’s day, was that all seven of his matches were competed against sighted athletes. From the word go, his opponents knew they were in for a tough match. He won four of his matches by Ippon ( full point that ends the match ) using various standing and ground techniques. ” I came here to win, that’s always my goal. I’m very pleased with the results, but I know that I can and will do much better. I’m really looking forward to going to practice on Wednesday night at Norwood Park. I’m going to bring my awards to show the other students what is possible. ” said Wilson as he looks towards his next competition.
Historically the Tohkon Classic is one of the top Judo tournaments in the Midwest. It attracts more than 250 players from all over the region. At the conclusion of the event an award is given to the player that demonstrates superior skill and spirit. This prestigious honor is called the Tohkon Classic Cup. It’s voted on by tournament officials, players and spectators. As icing on the cake, Howard Wilson was presented this high honor. ” I’m so happy that World Sport Chicago, the Chicago Park District and the Menomonee Judo Club are working together to make these kind of opportunities possible for me and all of the other athletes with any type of disability ” a jubilant and satisfied Wilson said on the way to his victory dinner.
Sensei Wolf looks towards a bright future, ” It’s a huge step forward for the Paralympic Judo movement here in Chicago. At the end of the day, we need to produce a group of elite level athletes from these programs to justify the support and opportunities we are receiving. I take that responsibility very seriously and expect nothing less from myself. I want to thank everyone at World Sport Chicago and the Chicago Park District for letting me work with these fantastic athletes. This is only the tip of the iceberg of what we are going to accomplish in the coming months and years. “. Howard gets a couple of days to bask in the glow of his accomplishment, but it’s back to work at the dojo on Wednesday.
Gold Medal Senior Novice – 220 lbs
Silver Medal Masters 40 – 49 -220 lbs
Winner Tohkon Fighting Spirit Cup