15 September 2023



Poland is a country in east-central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called voivodeships, covering an area of 313,931 km². Bordered by seven nations, Poland has buffed and faded over the centuries, pummelled by the forces of regional history. Poland has a population of around 38 million and is the fifth-most populated member state of the European Union.

The National Judo Federation of Poland was established in 1957. Since then, they are a proud organisation of many remarkable achievements, including eight Olympic medals, three of which were first-rate retentions. 

1972 Munich, Germany Antoni ZAJKOWSKISilver
1976 Montreal, CanadaMarian TALAJBronze
1980 Moscow, RussiaJanusz PAWLOWSKIBronze
1988 Soul, KoreaWaldemar LEGIENGold
1988 Soul, KoreaJanusz PAWLOWSKISilver
1992 Barcelona, SpainWaldemar LEGIENGold
1996 Atlanta, USAAneta SZCZEPANSKASilver
1996 Atlanta, USAPawel NASTULAGold

In 1984, due to commonly known political reasons, 14 countries, including the Polish national team boycotted participation at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Instead, a judo tournament was organised in Warsaw, modelled on the Olympics, for countries that did not compete in the USA. Poland won medals in almost all categories; therefore, it is believed that if these medals were included in the official classification of the Olympic Games, the medal tally of Polish judo would almost double.

Until this day, the Polish judo family won the total of 34 senior world championship medals, six of those were victorious, delivered by three individuals precisely. In 1993, Beata MAKSYMOW and Rafal KUBACKI collected the first set of senior world medals with both being golden performances in Hamilton. Pawel NASTULA extended Poland’s golden collection in 1995 from Makuhari. The winning trio then went onto doubling their world title compendium. Kubacki and Nastula aced in 1997 whilst Maksymow crowned herself in 1999, not knowing, to date, she would be the last person to win a senior world title.

Amongst the juniors’ world stage, Poland excelled at two occasions, in 1986 by Kubacki and in 2013 by Arleta PODOLAK. Despite tonnes of medals, the country is yet to gain cadet world title, however, banked seven victories at the series of veteran worlds and one more from the kata world championships. 

Polish judoka conquered Europe’s senior rostrum 115 times, 20 of which were top performances. 

1975 Lyon, FranceAntoni REITER 
1977 Ludwigshafen, GermanyAdam ADAMCZYK
1981 Debrecen, HungaryWojciech RESZKO, Andrzej DZIEMIANIUK
1985 Landskrona, SwedenBoguslawa OLECHNOWICZ
1986 London, Great BritainBeata MAKSYMOW
1987 Paris, FranceBoguslawa OLECHNOWICZ, Wieslaw BLACH 
1989 Helsinki, FinlandRafal KUBACKI
1990 Frankfurt, GermanyWaldemar LEGIEN
1991 Prague, Czech RepublicBeata MAKSYMOW
1992 Paris, FranceBoguslawa OLECHNOWICZ
1994 Gdansk, PolandEwa-Larysa KRAUSE, Pawel NASTULA
1995 Birmingham, Great BritainPawel NASTULA
1996 The Hague, NetherlandsPawel NASTULA
1997 Ostend, BelgiumBeata MAKSYMOW
2002 Maribor, SloveniaAdriana DADCI
2007 Belgrade, SerbiaRobert KRAWCZYK
2021 Lisbon, PortugalBeata PACUT 

Over two dozen – 25 to be exact – junior European Champions were celebrated throughout history. Added to that, there were two cadet, eight veteran and 13 kata continental victories so far. 

Today, there are 3046 registered judoka across 431 clubs. However, these figures do not cover the reality as to practice judo u13 or recreationally, you do not need a membership licence in Poland. Therefore, the estimated judoka in the country is around 50-60,000 people. 

Off the mat…Did you know? 

Author: Szandra Szogedi