“Hajime” is the word for “Beginning” in Japanese and is the same word used by referees at the start of every judo match.
New York, 29-30 November 1980. 149 athletes from 27 countries set foot in Madison Square Garden, ready to write a page in the history of the sport. Strongly desired by judoka from all over the world and above all by the legendary figure of Rusty Kanokogi, the first women’s judo world championships get underway.
It is a unique event, where for the first time there is a different air, one of universality. It’s something that we are used to today, but which is totally new to those who, until that moment, had been denied the possibility of experiencing it. And among all the 149 judoka present, there were also them: the 7 “azzurre” of New York. Anna De Novellis, Patrizia Montaguti, Maria Vittoria Fontana, Laura di Toma, Nadia Amerighi, Margherita De Cal. Seven women who have written part of this “hajime”, to whom I want to pay a small tribute through this work. Memory is short, we often take for granted everything we have, but upstream there is always a pioneer who paves the way for all those who come after. The women’s Olympic judo medals, are all daughters of the names that participated in that first historic event. “Hajime” is the story of that new beginning that winds through the memories of these seven wonderful women, created by collecting what time still preserves among photographs, documents and newspaper articles.
The documents were kindly provided by Jean Kanokogi, Rusty’s daughter.