AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch judo Olympic champion Anton Geesink, the first non-Japanese to win a world judo championship, has died at the age of 76.
Dutch state broadcaster NOS said Geesink, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member since 1987, died on Friday from a brief illness after spending the past few weeks in hospital.
Geesink shocked the Japanese judo establishment by winning a world championship title in 1961, the first non-Japanese to do so, and won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.
He won further world championship titles in 1964 and 1965 and won a total of 21 European judo championship titles and was several times Dutch judo champion, the IOC said in a statement.
It said it was “greatly saddened” to learn of Geesink’s death, adding that he had dedicated his entire career to the promotion of judo and its values.
“A giant has just passed away,” the International Judo Federation said on its website, adding that Geesink’s work to promote the sport had helped make it universally popular.
Born in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, Geesink was a 10th dan judoka.
Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block, editing by Tim Pearce
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