Chiaki Ishii, the first Brazilian Olympic medalist in judo, will win the Brazilian Olympic award Adhemar Ferreira da Silva Trophy in 2023. The event will take place on Friday in Rio de Janeiro.

Photo: Gaspar Nóbrega/COB / Gazeta Esportiva

A naturalized Japanese, Brazilian Chiaki Ishii was responsible for winning the first of 24 judo medals at the Olympic Games – bronze in Munich in 1972. But in addition to being a pioneer, his work at the academy in Lapa in São Paulo brought other Olympic medalists success, such as Walter Carmona and Rafael “Baby” Silva.

For his achievements and legacy in Brazilian Olympic sports, Chiaki Ishii was selected by the Brazilian Olympic Committee to honor the Adhemar Ferreira da Silva Trophy, awarded to Brazilian athletes who have distinguished themselves and built a consistent and everlasting legacy.

“I feel honored to be part of a select group of great athletes who have made history and contributed to Brazilian Olympic sport. For me, it is a source of pride to see judo, which was previously seen as a martial art and self-defense, turning into an Olympic sport that brings medals and hope to Brazil,” said Chiaki Ishii.

Chiaki decided to move to Brazil after a major sporting disappointment. He lost the Japanese selection for the 1964 Olympic Games, the first edition in which judo was competed. It was a defeat for Isao Okano, who became the Olympic champion.

He then traveled to several South American countries, but decided to stop in Brazil and become a cowboy, inspired by North American films he had watched. He came to Brazil only with judo training and before he showed his judo skills, he had to work in agriculture, or more precisely, in the Japanese colony in Presidente Prudente.

“With one judo guide on my back, I trained and fought hard until I won an Olympic bronze medal,” said Ishii, who was also the first Brazilian to medal at the World Judo Championships when he won bronze in Ludwigschafen in 1971.

“I believe I managed to introduce Brazilians to judo, sumo and sports that for Brazilians are part of Japanese culture. And thanks to my achievements and training, I gave them confidence and made me believe that if I can win a medal at the Olympic Games, anyone can. The secret lies in training and dedication. Passing on this confidence to the athletes I have trained, such as Aurélio Miguel, Walter Carmona and Rogério Sampaio, and seeing them win Olympic medals is a source of great pride for me “Just as judo has become one of the most played Olympic sports in Brazil. This is how I see my contribution,” added the 82-year-old champion.