Kevin Earls, Judo Club Co-Chairman
NYAC Championship - New York Open
The NYAC hosted many Metropolitan AAU Championships. It was a fiercely fought tournament due to the high level of Judo in the city and tremendous depth in all divisions. The NYAC was the perennial winner of the Team Championship in this tournament. The NYAC was also the site of the military Championships and the Pan-American trials, but the NYAC did not have its own tournament until 1983.
Through the efforts of the former Joe Casale and Vinny Ursone, the first annual NYAC Judo Tournament was born twenty five years ago. From humble beginnings come great things. The years have seen this tournament grow, first from a regional, then to a national event. Mel Appelbaum, John Walla, Arthur Canario, the judo Chairmen and many, many others have taken what was one of the premier contests in the nation to a full scale international event. Competitors from over 20 countries regularly travel to NY to compete here. You will find Olympic and World medalists fighting here, and not always winning. The NY Open has become the most competitive international competition held in North America.
A special note for the strong willed energetic men who built the NYAC Judo Team:
First and foremost there is Charlie Lambur who was the Founding Father and driving force of the NYAC Judo Team for almost 20 years. If it were not for him there would not be a Judo program. Joe Casale picked up the torch and added greater depth to the program in the 70’s. Vinny Ursone and Ed Musikantow then took the team through the 80's adding elite athletes to an already strong program. They began the prestigious NYAC Tournament easily the finest in the US. Kevin Earls piloted the program through the outstanding growth of the 90’s passing the torch to Owen Tunney when Kevin was elected the only judo competitor to serve on the NYAC Board and later became NYAC Captain, overseeing all sports. The judo club is now in the excellent hands of Owen Tunney and Andy Blumenthal and will continue to grow and move forward, building on the successes of the predecessors.
Judo at the NYAC is an eclectic mix of individuals. The Judo Team is comprised of elite athletes, businessmen, students, stockbrokers, doctors and lawyers. There are current elite world class athletes whose exploits have been documented here as well as regional champions, and former national champions for whom their competitive days are past. Yet, twice a week, they all step on the mat to fight their best against everybody. Some like Arthur Canario, a former National Champion, continue to compete in the Masters Division and become World Masters Champions.
They all come together weekly to fight, have a beer and share in the camaraderie that sets the NYAC Judo Team apart from all others.
The development and support of elite athletes is the central goal of the New York Athletic Club and this is certainly true of the Judo Program. Sensei Matsumura continues as the head instructor as he has for 33 years. He is ably assisted by Teimoc Johnston Ono and Aziz Bendris here in New York City. We also utilize the assistance of our two Olympic medalists Jason Morris located in upstate NY and Jim Pedro in Massachusetts to attract and develop elite athletes for the NYAC. Here at the Club, our workouts encompass both current elite champions, the old guard comprised of former champs, and interested NYAC club members.
We have a children’s program designed to give the sons and daughters of NYAC members exposure to, and basic training in judo and the self discipline and self esteem that is the byproduct of good Judo instruction. This is ably run by Aziz Bendris, Francesco Rulli, Said Dib, Alessandro Hamada, Jim Gorman, and Michael Garbarino. The NYAC continues to this day it’s commitment to all phases of judo.