HE’s a judo legend who has inspired hundreds with a love for the sport in a dazzling career spanning more than six decades.
And now Edinburgh’s “Mr Judo” George Kerr is set to share the story of his success after penning a long-awaited autobiography – My Journey to the 10th Dan.
President of the British Judo Association, Kerr holds the unique position of being the only living person outside Japan to be recognised with 10th Dan status following his meteoric rise to fame from humble beginnings in Leith.
Published to coincide with his 80th birthday, the new book tells the fascinating story of Kerr’s amazing journey, covering both the victories and defeats of a life dedicated to judo.
Readers will be able to enjoy accounts of Kerr’s sea voyage to Japan aged 18 to study at Nihon University and the legendary Kodokan Institute, judo’s spiritual home, and the challenges he faced in a country then largely unknown to Europeans.
The book will also detail early successes as European and British Open champion, as well as Kerr’s heartbreak at, having been deemed a professional, being denied entry to the Tokyo Olympics.
But it’s not just Kerr’s own triumphs which the autobiography explores, with the judo expert also explaining the intricacies of his role as an Olympic coach.
It was a role which proved to be equally fruitful, seeing him nurture to success double Olympic gold medallist and world champion Peter Seisenbacher, European champion Robert Kostenburger and Olympic medallist Josef Richter.
Born in Craigentinny and a former pupil at Leith Academy, Kerr has taught the art of judo to children since he was 15 and has seen thousands of young “judokas” pass through the doors of The Edinburgh Club, which he formed in 1964.
Kerr, who gained his black belt at the age of 15, has previously spoken of how he “fell” into the sport, describing it as being “the way you deal with people, respect, and honour”.
He said: “I think that’s what attracts the parents to the sport – the code of discipline, and the bowing at the beginning and end. I think in society today, it’s good for them to get their kids along.”
He has likened his coaching style to that of former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, saying: “He is like I am in Judo. I try to instil honesty, fair play, and respect.”
The long-awaited autobiography comes six years after Kerr was bestowed with the Edinburgh Award, with the judo star saying it was “the nicest thing in the world to be honoured by your own town”.
My Journey to the 10th Dan will be officially launched at this year’s World Judo Championships, which get under way in Budapest on August 28. The book can be pre-ordered online.