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Kenneth Karmann, 71, Masters Judo Champion
Kenneth D. Karmann, a sixth degree black belt and 1999 world Masters champion in judo, died on the mat teaching the sport he loved.
The 71-year-old Riverside resident suffered an aneurysm March 14, 2000 while teaching a class at Sendai Judo Club, said son, Brad Karmann.
Mr. Karmann followed his son into the sport at the age of 35 in 1961. Once they put the gi on him he fell in love with it,” said the younger Karmann, a former U.S. judo team member and national rank player in the early 80’s. At only 18 months of study, the father earned a black belt and formed the Sendai Judo Club, Nanka Yudanshakai and USJF and USJA life Member. Later he taught at the YMCA in Riverside, city recreation programs and Riverside and San Bernardino clubs for nearly 40 years.
He was a pioneer in the United States Judo Federation competitions for Masters age 35 and older. He has won ten National Master Championships and has placed in all the others he competed in, even after He had a heart by-pass in 1988. He was also a pioneer for Women competition as his two daughters were nationally rank players in the mid to late 70’s. He introduces the sport to his first three Grandchildren who became national players in the kids divisions. In 1999, He took the first World Master Judo Championships, which was held in Canada. He was the oldest person to compete in the tournament. The day my Father Past away, He planned to retire the summer after the national tournament in Houston and World contest in Nova Scotia, Canada in 2000.
In the late 1960’s, he became the only Caucasian to ever throw Japanese champion Isao Inokuma for a full point. The 1964 Olympic gold medalist and the 1965 World Champion was in his prime.
“Everybody in the world wanted to beat( Inokuma),” said Dr. Jim Wooley, a former Olympic competitor and coach who knows the Karmanns.
Wooley described Kenneth Karmann as a gifted technician in the art and physical principals of judo who deftly painted pictures in words to convey techniques to students.
The Long Beach native was raised in a Riverside Citrus Ranch family. He and his descendants played football for Riverside Poly High School, where he graduated in 1947. He studied engineering and competed in wrestling at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo College. From 1949 until 1952, he served in the U.S Air Force and played semi-pro Football.
By profession, Mr. Karmann was a surveyor for the city of Riverside and engineering firms in the city. He taught surveying through Operating Engineers Union Local 12 before he retied in the late 1980’s.