For 70 years Jim Kojima has devoted his entire adult life to raising the international profile of judo in BC and Canada unlike any other individual in this province and possibly this country’s history.

In 1953 Jim first began competing as a 15-year-old judoka with the newly formed Steveston Judo Club. He has since participated as an athlete, coach, referee, official, administrator, board member, and fundraiser. Seventy years later you can still find him twice a week at the Steveston Martial Arts Center—a facility he helped raise $100,000 to build in 1972—teaching judo to kids amongst his other responsibilities with Judo BC and Judo Canada, organizations he has served since 1957.

His family overcame terrible hardships when forcibly relocated from Steveston to an Alberta sugar beet farm following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour. Allowed to return home after nine long years, Jim earned his first black belt in judo in 1957. In 2018 he became one of only a handful in Canada to earn an eighth-degree black belt.

Jim began refereeing judo locally in the late 1960s and by 1975 was considered one of the world’s top referees, officiating at three world championships and two Olympics. Later he served on the International Judo Federation Referee Commission at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics and was IJF Referee Director at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. Between these roles he attended 22 different IJF world championships and attended events in 78 countries.

During his term as Judo Canada president from 1988-94, Jim won for Canada the right to host the 1993 World Judo Championships at Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum, the most prestigious judo event ever hosted in Canada.

For his service to judo worldwide, Jim has received both the Order of Canada and Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

To read more on the career of Jim Kojima, please see the April 2023 Curator’s Corner article here: