Tommy Kono

(1930-2016) Weightlifter. Two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Sudden change in status

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Tamio Tommy Kono was born in Sacramento, California in 1930. While incarcerated in Tule Lake Relocation Center during World War II, he learned the basics of weightlifting. Returning to Sacramento after the war, Kono began to compete in weightlifting competitions. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1951 where he served as a cook. He was saved from being sent to combat in the Korean War by his Olympic potential.

Kono competed in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics where he won the gold medal. He would eventually win two additional Olympic medals (gold in 1956; silver in 1960), eight consecutive World titles, the Mr. World title in 1954, three Mr. Universe titles (1955, 1957, 1961), and set 7 Olympic records and 26 world records (in four different weight classes). After retiring from active competition, he was the national and Olympic coach for Mexico (1966-1968), West Germany (1969-1972), and the United States (1973-1976). In 1990, he was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. In 1994, he was enshrined in the International Weightlifting Hall of Fame. Kono was also honored as one of the 100 Golden Olympians at the 1996 Atlanta Games. 

He passed away on April 24, 2016 at age 85. (April 2016)

olympics sports

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