(excerpt from Wikipedia – below)
Douglas (”Doug”) Rogers (born January 26, 1941 in Truro, Nova Scotia) was a Canadian Olympic competitor in judo. His best-known achievements are a silver medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and gold medals at two Pan American Games, in 1965 and 1967. He was a student of Masahiko Kimura, perhaps one of the greatest judo competitors ever.
As a member of the Takushoku University team coached by Kimura, Doug Rogers won the team pennant at the 1965 All Japan University Championships. He was selected as Best Fighter at the same tournament.
Doug had arrived in Japan some five years earlier at the age of 20 with the specific intention of working on his judo. He had always been athletic. As a youth, he had won the Ontario Minor Hockey Championships as the highest-scoring defenceman in the tournament. At age 15 he joined the judo club at the Montreal YMCA. It was not long before his sensei there told him there was nothing left for him to teach and directed him over to Fred Okimura’s Montreal Seidokwan dojo. He continued practicing while in high school, winning the Eastern Canada brown belt title in 1958. The following year he won the black belt title. Despite a promising academic career at McGill University, Doug Rogers applied to the Kodokan, was accepted and boarded a plane for Japan in 1960.
Training was informal. There were occasional lessons in the foreign dojo on another floor, but most practice took place in the vast main dojo. The quality of the practice depended very much on who was there. The best judo at the time was coming out of the police academy and universities and these groups would come to the Kodokan for practice on a weekly basis. Doug made a special effort to train with the judoka from the police academy and Takudai University. It was in this way that he got to meet Kimura, who was the Takushoku University coach and one of its most famous alumni .
Word was out that Doug Rogers was a strong competitor, and a handful for even the best judokas in Japan. The Canadian Olympic Committee were looking for medal hopefuls and jumped at the idea of having a medal hopeful already located in Japan, and were ready to recruit him for the team. They were less than delighted, however, when Doug returned to Canada to compete in the nationals and were reluctant to pay for his airfare back to Japan for the games. Eventually they settled for paying a one-way ticket and Doug Rogers was ready to go. His day at the Olympics is best described by Frank Moritsugu, a contemporary of his.
“With coach Frank Hatashita at matside, on that October 1964 day at the Budokan, Doug had an easy time in the early rounds. In the semis he clearly decisioned a tough opponent, the bull-like Soviet competitor P. Chikviladze, eliminating one of the possible winners. Then came the heavy weight finals where his opponent was Isao Inokuma, the all-Japan champion. Inokuma was shorter and many pounds lighter but much more experienced and perhaps Japan’s supreme judo technician. And he was an occasional training partner of Rogers at the Kodokan. Theirs was a hard-fought match which we watched agonizingly on our TV sets here in Canada. Neither man could throw the other cleanly although both managed to complete throws which ended off the tatami. At the end of a truly championship bout, it was a narrow decision for Inokuma but with his silver medal, Doug Rogers had become Canada’s first judoka to mount the Olympic medal podium at the first Olympics where judo was included.”
It was only after the Olympics that Doug Rogers went to train full time with Kimura and the Takushoku (Takudai) team. He felt very close to Kimura, regarded him as a father figure and stayed in touch with him until his death in 1993. Kimura was a kind man, a lover of bonsai plants and very loyal to his students. On the mat, he demanded a very high level of physical fitness and concentrated on training simple, strong judo moves. His training style was somewhat informal compared to the strict etiquette and bowing rituals practiced in the western world to this day. He often came onto the mats in sweat pants and threw on a judogi only as needed to demonstrate a technique.
In the summer of 1965 Doug Rogers joined the All Japan University Championships as a member of the Takushoku University team and helped them bring the winner’s penant back to Takudai for the first time in many years. Not only was Doug the first non-Asian foreigner to take part in this tournament, he was also named as best fighter in the tournament.
“One more year,” Kimura had told him, “and there will be no opponents left for you to beat.” But Doug Rogers did not have one more year. Judo brought a degree of fame in Japan but no fortune, and unlike the more flexible working world of today, people had to build a career when young. He had attained his private pilot’s license at the age of 16 and had always hoped to be a professional pilot. At the ripe old age of 24 the clock was ticking and Doug chose to return to Canada to pursue his career as a pilot.
After a summer tour of many Japanese universities with the Takudai team and after many great parties, Doug Rogers was seen off at the airport by his teammates carrying their winner’s pennants and by his coach Masahiko Kimura.
Doug Rogers went on to win gold at two Pan-American games and several Canadian National championships. Another mark of Doug Rogers’ judo skill is his taking of 4th place at the 1972 Olympics despite having been out of serious training for many years. Once in Canada, he was spending hours a day in a cockpit rather than on the mats. He no longer had Kimura as a coach nor did he have the quality of partner that a world champion really needs.
Doug Rogers has now retired from a long career as an airline pilot. He is married with four grown-up children (all of whom are outstanding athletes). Although less active in Judo today he still frequents local Judo tournaments and from time to time is an invited guest/coach at Judo clubs through out Greater Vancouver, British Columbia.
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