Farewell Yonezuka Yoshisada, and thank you for bringing sumo to the U.S., by Kelly Gneiting
Olympic Coach Yoshisada Yonezuka (“Yone” for those who knew him), 77, of Cranford, N.J., passed away Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, at Hackensack University Medical Center. Friends are invited to visit from 3 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Dooley Funeral Home, 218 North Ave. West in Cranford, N.J.
Born in 1937 in Aomori prefecture, Japan, Mr. Yonezuka lived in the United Sates since 1960. A prominent member of the martial arts community, he founded the Cranford Judo and Karate Center over 50 years ago, home to many renown athletes. In 1988, and again in 1992, Mr. Yonezuka was the head coach of the U.S. Olympic Judo Team (Barcelona & Seoul) . He was a graduate of Nihon University (Japan), and had been an officer in many martial arts organizations, including sumo. He achieved an 8th Degree Black Belt in Judo, and an 8th Degree Black Belt in Karate
As well, Coach Yonezuka is considered the founder of American Sumo since he worked with the International Sumo Federation in Japan to bring our martial art to America in the early 90’s, in time for the 1st Sumo World Championships in 1992. Since then, all Americans who have competed in this sport have benefitted from Yone’s vision and service. This includes America’s only world champion, Manny Yarbrough (1995), who was coached by Mr. Yonezuka.
From Manny: “R.I.P. Yoshisada Yonezuka. Not only have we lost one of the greatest teachers of all times. We've lost one of the greatest men. Yone, my sensei, I'm devastated by your passing, but I'm buoyed by your fighting spirit, which will always remain with me. Condolences to Nicky, Natacha, and the rest of the Yonezuka family.”
Surviving are his son, Nicolas Yonezuka (Denise); his daughter, Natacha Yonezuka-Gullo (Geoffrey); four beloved grandchildren, Sophia, Nicolas, Jack, and Kenji; two sisters, Teruko and Nabuko; two brothers, Yoshi and Masato; and his former wife, Anastasia Yonezuka. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Yoshisada Yonezuka Memorial Fund, 107 South Ave., Cranford, N.J. 07016.
I personally spoke with Natacha Sunday morning, October 19, and wished her and her family my heartfelt condolences on behalf of the United States Sumo Federation, and that “truly your Dad was a great man.” I told her the USSF would honor him with this submission on our website.
For truly the man is worthy of honor.
View 2014 World Championships Results:
To contact us:
Attn: Americus Abesamis
827 N. Hollywood Way, #473
Burbank, CA 91505-2841
Tom Zabel (TX) 210-478-2267
Trent Sabo (ID) 208-821-5802
Treasurer & Membership Coordinator
Click the Map to find your closest USSF Contact/Club
2014 U.S. National Sumo Championships Results, Jackson, WY:
Congratulations to the World Championships Qualifiers: