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.


Kelly Gneiting,

USSF Trustee



View 2014 World Championships Results:


Jr Women’s

Jr Men’s

Sr Women’s

Sr Men’s




Other Sumo Links:


International Sumo Federation


European Sumo Union



To contact us:
United States Sumo Federation

Attn: Americus Abesamis

827 N. Hollywood Way, #473

Burbank, CA 91505-2841
Kelly Gneiting (AZ) 928-309-1776
Andrew Freund (CA) 310-617-9641
Matt Ritchie (AZ) 816-468-3092

Tom Zabel (TX) 210-478-2267

Trent Sabo (ID) 208-821-5802
Andrew Freund (CA) 310-617-9641
Tiffany Tran (CA) 818-275-0539


Jesse DeSimon (CA) 775-453-1444


Treasurer & Membership Coordinator
Americus Abesamis (CA) 201-913-0710


Fax: 888-284-5573














Click the Map to find your closest USSF Contact/Club

2014 U.S. National Sumo Championships Results, Jackson, WY:

Junior Womens:
Light Gold: Celine VanHoye
Heavy Gold: Sarena Gneiting
Open Gold: Celine VanHoye
Open Silver: Sarena Gneiting

Junior Mens:
Light Gold: Ian Colton
Light Silver: Caleb Gay
Light Bronze: Josh Gay
Middle Gold: Hunter Mower
Open Gold: Ian Colton
Open Silver: Caleb Gay
Open Bronze: Josh Gay

Senior Womens:
Light Gold: Jenelle Hamilton
Light Silver: Celine VanHoye
Light Bronze: Sonya Del Gallego
Middle Gold: Tiffany Tran
Heavy Gold: Amanda Soule
Heavy Silver: Melanie Rivas
Heavy Bronze: Kendra Brinker
Open Gold: Jenelle Hamilton
Open Silver: Kendra Brinker
Open Bronze: Tiffany Tran

Senior Mens:
Light Gold: Andre Coleman
Light Silver: Andrew Freund
Light Bronze: Jessi DeSimone
Middle Gold: Kena Heffernan
Middle Silver: Colton Runyan
Middle Bronze: Robert Daniels
Heavy Gold: Jay Holder
Heavy Silver: Matt Ritchie
Heavy Bronze: James Brewster Thompson
Open Gold: Kena Heffernan
Open Silver: Jay Holder
Open Bronze: Colton Runyan

Masters Middle:
Middle Gold: Kena Heffernan
Middle Silver: Robert Daniel
Heavy Gold: James Brewster Thompson
Heavy Silver: Americus Abesamis
Open Gold: Kena Heffernan
Open Silver: Robert Daniel
Open Bronze: Americus Abesamis

Rookie Men:
Open Gold: Levi Kendrick
Open Silver: Derek Jefferies
Open Bronze: Jessie DeSimone


Congratulations to the World Championships Qualifiers:

Juniors, Light Gold:

Celine VanHoye
Juniors, Heavy Gold:

Sarena Gneiting
Juniors, Light Gold:

Ian Colton
Juniors, Middle Gold:

Hunter Mower
Juniors, Open Silver:

Caleb Gay
Seniors, Light Gold:

Jenelle Hamilton
Seniors, Middle Gold:

Tiffany Tran
Seniors, Heavy Gold:

Amanda Soule
Seniors, Open Silver:

Kendra Brinker
Seniors, Light Gold:

Andre Coleman
Seniors, Middle Gold:

Kena Heffernan
Seniors, Heavy Gold:

Jay Holder
Seniors, Open Bronze:

Colton Runyan