George Kerr was awarded the 10th Dan today at the IJF Grand Slam of Paris. The 72-year old Scotsman got recognition of his services for judo with this honour. Kerr is the 7th man in the world receiving the 10th Dan.
George Kerr today in Paris: “I was humbled and embarrassed as well. I really feel humble, I kept my head down during the ceremony. I bended my head as there are so many others which meant a lot for judo.”
George Kerr indeed has a list of honour to you can hardly believe. He was one of the first athletes to go to Japan, study there and brought the skills of physical training and the philosophy of judo to Britain and to Europe. He trained with Anton Geesink, one of the seven 10th Dan graduates, and still a friend of Kerr.
Kerr says: “Anton is about the same age, three years difference. Anton was above all. I was actually a middle weight of 85 kilo and once I beat the European Open Champion Nicola Tempesta in 1961, I thought I will only compete at the European Open Championships in 1962. But I lost to Anton, he was lucky” Kerr joked. “No he nearly killed me there”. But I did a lot of effort going to Japan in advance, so I thought I will compete only at the Open category.”
After his judo career where he won European individual medals and with the British Team in the late fifties and early sixties, Kerr developed himself as an international referee. He refereed at two Olympic Games (1972 and 1976) and at three World Championships between 1969 and 1975. He retired as international referee in 1976.
After that he became coach of Austrian Peter Seisenbacher. Seisenbacher was sitting next to Kerr today after the ceremony. Seisenbacher was the first to win two executive Olympic Games.
Later Kerr was a coach of many many fighters. At the Edinburgh Judo Club he had an exchange program with the Tokai University where champion came to Scotland to learn English and to train at Kerr’s club. Yoshi Nakamura, Hidetoshi Nakanishi, both world champions were trained by Kerr.
And Kosei Inoue is of course the most recent famous judoka who was sent to Kerr to learn English, learn the culture and soon he will move to London to develop further at the Budokwai Judo Club, as the Japanese NOC wants him to develop. Kerr is the host, the teacher, the accommodator and most of all a father to Inoue. His daughter ‘Mei’ was born last year in ‘May’ in Scotland.
Kerr treated him like his sun like he did to many judoka. One of the judoka he had in his club was Graeme Randall, the world champion of 1999, trained by Billy Cusack.
Besides his career as an athlete, referee and trainer Kerr was also EJU Sports Director and vice president of the EJU in the ninetees. And in the Sports Commission of the IJF. He was the Chairman of the British Judo Assocation from 1991 until 1997 and after President Charles Palmer died in 2001, Kerr took over the position as President of the BJA in 2002. Palmer was one of the 10th Dan holders as well.
Kerr was already 9th Dan for 12 years.
Kerr was far ahead of his time and today he awarded the tenth Dan grade.
“Pssst” Kerr says: “I already heard the rumour in January. And I was told yesterday as I had to be present in the hall. But it is a great honour. In January I got an award of the Japanese government for the development of the cooperation between Japan and Great Britain and now this honour. It’s a good year!”