Antonius Johannes Geesink, known as Anton Geesink, was the judoka who changed how the Japanese viewed judo. And it is that, since the judo saw its beginnings in Japan (the country in which it was created), it was Japan who dominated him in his first championships, or so it was until Anton Geesink dominated this sport exclusively.
Anton Geesink, Dutch by birth, started in judo at the young age of fourteen, but it was not until he was seventeen that he started competing internationally.
His first medal was of silver, obtained in his first participation: the European Championship of 1951, which he won the following year, and that continued winning in different categories until 1967.
With his average height of almost two meters of height (1.98 meters), and with an average weight in his best times of 120 kilograms, all his colleagues considered him in very good physical conditions.
At twenty-seven he became World Champion in Judo, having the title of 5th Dan, he got it in the open class of the Judo World Championship, defeating the Japanese Koji Sone.
Until then, all the disputed World Championships had been won by Japanese, and judo was not considered an Olympic sport, and it was not until the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where it was included as an exhibition sport.
In these Olympics Geesink won the admiration and respect of the Japanese, since for them judo was not an exhibition sport, but a national sport. Anton was the western who managed to shock Japan, in the memorable Summer Olympics of 1964, held in the city of Tokyo.
This is because in that Olympic Championship, held in the country where the judo originated, japanese competitors won the titles of lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight, as expected, but Anton Geesink won the Open category, which has a higher prestige than the other categories. Anton won the victory on October 23, 1964 in Japan.
After this national defeat, before a public spectator of approximately 15,000 people, Geesink, gained many followers, but it was also commented on the television that many Japanese who committed suicide, for such humiliation.
We can say that until 2018, Japan has trouble assimilating that it does not get all the medals in its national sport: Judo. And, thanks to federations such as the Korean, the Brazilian or the French, we can see a balanced medal table.
But in the years in which Anton Geesink competed, and less than two decades after the end of World War II, to be called world champions in judo, it was something that exalted Japan, being champions in Judo was a national pride, since nobody had beaten them before.
Having been crowned world champion in judo in 1961, at 27, Geesink, made a lot of noise in the eyes of the Japanese, the Japanese believed that they could take up the baton in the Olympics to be held at home in 1964, which never happened.
If we have to remember a crucial moment in Anton Geesink’s career, it is the European Judo Championship from 1951 to 1967, where he managed to win twenty-four medals; and the Judo World Championship from 1956 to 1965, where he won three medals.
In 1967, after having won the European Judo Championship, Anton Geesink, decided to withdraw from competitive judo.
For the year 1987, Anton Geesink was a member of the Dutch National Committee of Judo and the Assembly of the International Olympic Committee.
Being a member of the Assembly of the International Olympic Committee, was sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, for being suspected of receiving bribes, around the scandal that revolved about the election of Salt Lake City, as host of the Winter Olympics of the year 2002 .
The bribery scandal only warranted Anton Geesink an admonition by the Olympic Committee, and not the expulsion from the International Olympic Committee, where Anton Geesink remained a member until the date of his death.
Anton Geesink, was one of the few judokas to achieve tenth dan black belt degree, being recognized by the International Judo Federation, but not by Kōdōkan.
In 2010, Anton Geesink, was the only 10th Dan alive recognized by the International Judo Federation, while recognized by Kodokan (the Japanese mother school of judo), for 2010 were: Yoshimi Osawa, Ichiro Abe and Toshiro Daigo. It should be noted that Kodokan has not awarded the 10th Dan to anyone outside of Japan.
On August 27, 2010, in his hometown Utrecht, at the age of 76, the legend of Judo Anton Geesink passed away, leaving his wife of more than fifty years alive: Jans Geesink; and their children: Anton, Willy and their daughter Leni.
As an interesting fact in the hometown of Anton Geesink, there is a street that bears his name. And it is the street where he lived until his death.