Hector Estevez

 

Hector Estevez

2021

Hector E. Estevez

Proposed 2021 by Pedro Kolychkine, President of the Florida State Judo Yudanshakai
Inducted 2021

Hector Estevez writes

Born in the City of Camaguey, Cuba in 1953, I started Judo when I was 9 years old, the love for the sport of Judo that I have today I owe it to my cousin who introduced me for the first time to the sport of Judo. I watched him and others practice and take judo classes in the afternoons, after class we always walked back home together with his folded judogi in his back and also I owe it to my father who wanted me to get in shape.

In 1963 I attended my first Province tournament in the City of Camaguey Cuba and took 3rd in the 11-year-old division. That same year after 6 years of Castro’s Cuban Communism, my family left Cuba and finally emigrated to the U.S. settling in Miami Florida in 1965.

This is one of those interesting life stories like those of so many Americans who emigrated to this great country of ours. Immediately upon arriving to Miami, at the age of 11 my first job was delivering newspapers after school and one day I saw through the windows of a shopping center that they were practicing judo. The judo school I am referring to was from Sensei Reinaldo Montpellier (RIP) a judo sport figure in the island of Cuba and Cuban National Champion in 1959 and many times Florida Heavyweight Judo Champion in the 60’s, and U.S. Judo National Referee. Sensei Montpellier practically adopted me as his son and that was the drive that I needed to start practicing again the sport that I loved.

With the same level of commitment and will power I started competing locally and in Florida in many Florida State Judo Championships and was awarded the TAIZO SONE INSPIRATIONAL TROPHY for “Best Florida Judoka” and “Best Technique” and at the age of 14 I started competing in the USJF Jr. Nationals placing always in the top 3 for my age and weight class as well as in the High School Nationals, after graduating from High School in 1972 I attended Miami Dade Jr. College in Miami where Sensei Jack Williams had one of the most successful Jr. College Judo Programs in the Nation placing many times Miami Dade College as Jr. Collegiate National Champion and National 4 year Collegiate Champion. I competed representing MDCC my first 2 years winning the Jr. Collegiate National Championships and Overall Champion later in 1974 I transferred to Florida International University graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1977.

After the 1976 U.S. Olympic Trials, I decided to take a sabbatical from my studies and travel to Tokyo, Japan to train and learn from Sensei Isao Okano, Founder of SEIKIJUKU a Judo school and training site set up mainly to teach and train Judo to Foreigners in Japan. Sensei Okano taught us the value of hard work, dedication, judo training techniques and mental toughness while we trained in the Kodokan 3 times a week and 2 times a week at the Kyoto University where we trained with College Judo Students. I was there for the entire winter of 1976 and thanks to Sensei Okano’s teachings and support my judo technique, my judo conditioning and competitive edge improved tremendously. From 1972 to 1982, I continued to compete in the U.S. Senior Nationals placing in the top 3 in my weight class 86K, and 95K.

Every summer in the early 70’s I traveled to Puerto Rico to compete in their Senior Judo Tournament invited by Sensei Paranos, Sensei Chiu, Sensei Chang and Sensei Masayuki Takahama friends in Cuba of my Sensei Reinaldo Montpellier in Miami. It was in that tournament that I met for the first time Sensei Hiromi Tomita who was brought in by the Puerto Rico Judo Federation to train their National Men and Women’s team from Poland where he was the Polish National Judo Coach and before that a renowned National and International Caliber competitor from Japan. After graduating from Florida International University in 1977 an opportunity arose with the Catholic University of Puerto Rico were they were looking for a Full time Physical Education teacher and Judo instructor, and I received a call from Sensei Chiu, asking me if I was interested to interview and come and live in Puerto Rico ( A commonwealth State of the United States) and as an American Citizen after making my main residence in the island I could compete in international competition, Pan Americans, World and Olympics Games representing Puerto Rico. The skies opened up for me, I had always dreamed of competing internationally, and this was the opportunity I was waiting for and it happened at the right time in my judo career, I was 24 years old.

My first international experience representing Puerto Rico was in the summer of 1978 competing in the 86K and Open Division in the Central American and Caribbean Games in the City of Medellin, Colombia where I took a BRONZE medal in 86K losing only to Cuba’s Isaac Azcuy (World and Olympic Champion) and a SILVER in the Open Division. This tournament paved the way for me and for Sensei Tomita to immediately start training me and getting me prepared physically and mentally for the month of Oct 1978 in which we had in our schedule to attend 1978 Pan American Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I competed in the 86K losing only by decision for the Bronze medal to the Argentinian Jose Stratico. Two days later I competed in the Open Division where I won every match that day and for the first time in the history of Puerto Rican Judo I was awarded the GOLD MEDAL in Pan-American Judo for Puerto Rico. It was an unforgettable experience and a great day for me defeating the Cuban competitor, my fellow U.S. competitor, and others that day. An experience of a life time and something I will never forget for as long as I live.

Sensei Masayuki Takahama – Puerto Rico Senior Tournament “La Quenepa” Ponce, Puerto Rico

Sensei Masayuki Takahama – Puerto Rico Senior Tournament “La Quenepa” Ponce, Puerto Rico

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

The following year in July of 1979 Puerto Rico hosted the VIII Pan American Games in the capital City of San Juan and I was selected again to compete in 2 categories 86K and Open Division together with the entire Puerto Rico Judo team. After losing in the finals in the 86K, I entered the Open Division only losing the GOLD Medal final match to Brazil Osvaldo Simoes 310 lbs. taking the SILVER MEDAL and the first Judo medal won by Puerto Rico in the VIII Pan American Games which gave a tremendous exposure to my name and to the sport of Judo in all National and International media outlets, TV, Radio and all Sports Front Page section of all local and National Newspapers throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S.

In December of 1979 I participated in the Open Division of the IJF World Judo Championships in Paris France defeating Osvaldo Simoes 310 lbs. from Brazil who had beaten me 6 months earlier in July for the GOLD MEDAL in the VIII Pan American Games in San Juan Puerto Rico losing later to Kutnesov from USSR.

A year later, in 1980 the Pan-American Judo Championships were celebrated in the Island of Margarita in Venezuela. I was again selected to compete in the 86K and Open division since I was having excellent results competing against the big boys. In the 86K division I lost only one match to Walter Carmona from Brazil (86K World Bronze medal winner in 1979) and took Silver medal and in the Open Division losing only one match to the Cuban competitor Juan Batista.

Based on my points in competition and international medals I was immediately selected by the Puerto Rico Judo Federation and the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee to represent Puerto Rico during the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow Russia and in July of that year I was called to a meeting with all of the rest of the Puerto Rico delegation of athletes and learned that the U.S. had boycotted the 1980 Olympics Games in Moscow and Puerto Rico a commonwealth State of Puerto Rico had decided that they were not going to participate in the Olympic Games.

I was devastated beyond belief of what I was hearing, after so much I had given to be in the position I was and of always having a dream to be an Olympic athlete, the sacrifice, the many hours or competition and training and moving to Puerto Rico, given it all, 3 years away from my family. But I accepted it and moved on.

That same year in 1980 I married my sweetheart, love of my life Zaida in Puerto Rico and moved back to Miami where my family was and for better job opportunities. In 1984 we started a family with the birth of my daughter Jessica and in 1990 my son Alex. Today I am a lucky grandparent of three beautiful grandkids Lucas, Madelynn and Layla. The love of our lives.

the Estevez family

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

the Estevez family

The Estevez family

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

In 1981 I was hired by Merck & Co., as a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep in Miami and started a brand-new career but my Judo competitive career continued in Miami competing in the 86K at the 1981 Senior Nationals and 1981 National Sports Festivals winning Gold medal and defeating in my weight class high level competitors such as my friend Bobby Berland, who later became a Silver Medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Tommy Martin and others.

All of a sudden, I found myself starting a family, a new job and a new career which required a lot of my time, dedication, effort and responsibility and I decided to stop competing altogether in regular competition but as the saying goes you never stop doing what you love to do and I continued practicing and teaching the sport that gave me so much and from 1984 to 1994 I competed in the Senior Nationals Master programs and won Gold medals in my weight class 10 consecutive years. It was then that I thought, “well, now what I am going to do,” and discussing it with my friends and family, I started my career as a Referee. I had the luxury of having Mentors such as Julio Clemente (Puerto Rico) Rudy Torruella (RIP) Dick Hugh, Joon Chi, Noboru Saito, Bob Fukuda, the late Mel Appelbaum (RIP), Carlos Diaz (Venezuela), Mattar (RIP) (Brazil), William Rosquet (Cuba)

With Sensei Julio Clemente, Referee Director Puerto Rican Judo Federation, and Sensei Gerado Chiu Hashidan, RETIRED and past Puerto Rican Judo Founder, during the International Medalist Night of Champions Dinner Ceremony

With Sensei Julio Clemente, Referee Director Puerto Rican Judo Federation, and Sensei Gerado Chiu Hashidan, RETIRED and past Puerto Rican Judo Founder, during the International Medalist Night of Champions Dinner Ceremony

Cuban Sport Hall of Fame

Cuban Sport Hall of Fame

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

Sensei Vicente Nogueroles and Sensei Ovidio Garnero (Argentina) and others, it was then that I seriously thought about pursuing an International Judo referee career and for 25 years I learned, watched a lot of tapes, studied, sacrificed weekends and learned from the best US IJF Referees at that time and became a certified U.S. National, Pan American and finally in 2001 I took the test for IJF A Referee. It was then that I realized based on all of the mentoring that I had received that I was going to follow their steps and be the best referee I could be nationally and internationally with hopes to one day represent the U.S. in the Olympic Games.

With Puerto Rican International Medalists and Sensei Hiromi Tomita

With Puerto Rican International Medalists and Sensei Hiromi Tomita

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

Dreams really come true, and after not competing as an athlete in the 1980 Olympic Games due to the U.S. Boycott and after seven years of International Refereeing that includes World Tour tournaments, Pan-American Cycle tournaments in Venezuela, Margarita Island, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, four World Championships, 2002 World Junior Judo Championships, 2003 World University Games in Korea, two World Senior Championships, one in 2005 World Judo Championships in Cairo, Egypt and one in 2007 World Judo Championships, 2004 Tourneau de France Paris, France, Otto International Judo Tournament in Hamburg, Germany, 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and after refereeing the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trails in Las Vegas Nevada, I was informed of my selection for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing China. An experience of a lifetime, and at the same time honored to have been selected as the U.S. Referee representing USA together with 23 other Internationally Referees to officiate in the biggest stage for Athletes and Referees in the World, the 2008 Olympic Games.

Referees in Beijing, Sensei Mattar ((RIP) Brazil), Sensei David Santiago (Mexico),Sensei Hector Estevez (USA), Sensei Julio Clemente (Puerto Rico), Sensei Ovidio Garnero (Argentina), Sesnei Juan Chalas (Dominican Republic), Sensei William Rosquet (Cuba)

Referees in Beijing, Sensei Mattar ((RIP) Brazil), Sensei David Santiago (Mexico),Sensei Hector Estevez (USA), Sensei Julio Clemente (Puerto Rico), Sensei Ovidio Garnero (Argentina), Sesnei Juan Chalas (Dominican Republic), Sensei William Rosquet (Cuba)

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

China did an outstanding job showcasing to the World, the City of Beijing and the people of China. There is nothing like the Olympic Games, an experience I will never forget for as long as I live.

A. Kolychkine Judo Foundation, Sensei Hector Estevez Shichidan, Sensei Pedro Kolychkine Rokudan, Sensei Gerardo Tello, Godan

A. Kolychkine Judo Foundation, Sensei Hector Estevez Shichidan, Sensei Pedro Kolychkine Rokudan, Sensei Gerardo Tello, Godan

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

Today I remain busy with my job, my family, my grandkids, teaching Judo, Vice President of Florida Judo Yudanshakai and very active refereeing in Florida tournaments, and Nationally, assisting Referees in the U.S. that may one day represent the U.S. in International competition, Worlds and Olympic Games like I did, and by helping and supporting the USJF Referee Commission and U.S. Judo Referee Commission which I have been a member since 2012 to the present.

Hector E. Estevez – Judo Curriculum Vitae

shichidan certificate

shichidan certificate

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

  • 7th Degree Black Belt – Shichidan
  • USA International Referee IJF – A
  • 2008 Olympic and World Referee
  • USA JUDO Referee Commission
  • USJF Referee Chairman
  • President – Florida State Judo Yudanshakai
  • Referee Chairman – Florida State Judo Yudanshakai
  • Referee Chairman – Florida Judo Inc.
  • Secretary, Pan American Judo Union Referee Commission

Judo Competitor Curriculum – Awards

    • 1966 – 1970 Florida State Junior, and Senior Champion Recipient of Sensei Taizo Sone Inspirational Award “Best Judoka in Florida.”
    • 1970 – 1977 Medalist – USA National Champion Junior, High School, Collegiate.
    • 1973 – 1984 Medalist – USA Senior National Championship
    • 1984 – 1994 GOLDMedal – 10 Years USA Master National Championship
    • 1978 GOLD MEDAL – Senior PANAMERICAN Judo CHAMPIONSHIPS Buenos Aires, Argentina.

1978 Pan-American Championships, Buenos Aires, Argentina

1978 Pan-American Championships, Buenos Aires, Argentina

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

    • 1979 SILVER MEDAL – VIII PANAMERICAN GAMES, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

1979 VIII Pan American Games, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Open Division

1979 VIII Pan American Games, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Open Division

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

    • 1980 SILVER and BRONZE Medal – Senior PANAMERICAN Judo CHAMPIONSHIPS Islas Margaritas, Venezuela.
    • 1981 GOLD Medal – 1981 US National Sports Festival, Indianapolis

1981 U.S. National Sports Festival, 86K

1981 U.S. National Sports Festival, 86K

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

Judo – Curriculum Vitae

  • 1979 PR Team WORLD JUDO CHAMPIONSHIPS Paris, France.
  • 1980 PR Team Summer OLYMPIC GAMES Moscow, USSR.
  • 1984 – 1994 USA Master National Championships 10 years GOLD MEDAL
  • 2000 IJF ‘A’ International Referee License – Argentina – PASSED
  • 2003 US Referee Pan-American Championships, Santo Domingo. Dominican Republic.

Referee Recognition and Awards

  • 2005 and 2007 USJF “Referee of the Year Award”
  • 2007 Florida Yudanshakai Distinction Award
  • 2010 Cuban Sports Hall of Fame – Miami, Florida – Recognition 2008 US Olympic Referee
  • 2011 John Osako – National Inspirational Award
  • 2014 Florida Sports “Renee Duschnee” Sports Award
  • 2014 “ USA Night of Champions ” – RECOGNITION during the IJF WORLD JUDO JR. CHAMPIONSHIPS – Ft. Lauderdale Florida, October 24th, 2014
  • 2016 Puerto Rican Olympic Committee / Puerto Rican Judo Federation Banquet – Recognition International Judo Medalist
  • 2003 US RefereeWorld University Games, Daegu, South Korea.

Puerto Rico Judo Federation: Left to Right, Sensei Chang, Sensei Chiu, Sensei Montalvo, Sensei Takahama, Sensei Tomita, Hector Estevez

Puerto Rico Judo Federation: Left to Right, Sensei Chang, Sensei Chiu, Sensei Montalvo, Sensei Takahama, Sensei Tomita, Hector Estevez

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

Referee

Hector Estevez

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved

    • 2003 USA Judo Open Junior and Senior Championships, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
    • 2004 US Referee World Junior Championships, Budapest Hungary.
    • 2004 USA Judo Open Junior and Senior Championships, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    • 2005 US Referee “ Tournoi de Paris Ile – de France” Paris France
    • 2005 US Referee “ Otto World Cup” German Open, Germany
    • 2005 USA Judo Open Junior and Senior Championships, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
    • 2005 US Referee Pan-American Championships, Buenos Aires Argentina.
    • 2005 World Senior Championships, Cairo, Egypt.
    • 2006 US Referee Pan American Championships, Buenos Aires Argentina
    • 2006 USA Judo Junior Open and Senior Championships, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
    • 2006 World Junior Championships, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
    • 2007 USA Judo Junior and Senior Open Championships, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
    • 2007 Pan American Games – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
    • 2007 World Judo Championship – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
    • 2007 US Referee Olympic Test Site “China Open Championship” Beijing, China.
    • 2008 US Referee Pan-American Senior Judo Championships
    • 2008 US Referee Zone I Beijing Olympic Qualifier Event
    • 2008 US Referee USA Olympic Trials – Las Vegas, Nevada
    • 2008 USJF Junior Nationals Championships – Chicago, Illinois
    • 2008 USA Judo Junior Open Championships, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
    • 2008 US Referee Beijing Olympic Games, Beijing China.
    • 2009 USA Judo Junior and Senior Open Championships, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
    • 2009 USA Jr. Olympics Championships – Orlando Florida
    • 2009 USA vs. Venezuela Senior Team Competition – Miami Fl
    • 2009 USA vs. Brazil Senior Team Competition, Ft. Lauderdale- Fl.
    • 2010 USA Judo Junior and Senior Open Championships, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
    • 2010 USA Jr. Olympics Championships – Orlando Florida
    • 2010 USA Judo Senior Nationals
    • 2010 World Judo Cup – City of Doral, Florida
    • 2010 Cuban Sports Hall of Fame – Miami, Florida – Recognition –
    • 2008 US Olympic Referee
    • 2011 USA Judo Junior and Senior Open Championships, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
    • 2011 USA Jr. Olympics Championships – Orlando Florida
    • 2011 World Judo Cup, City of Doral, Florida
    • 2012 USA Judo Junior and Senior Open Championships, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
    • 2012 USA Jr. Olympics Championships – Orlando Florida
    • 2012 World Masters and Team Championship, City of Doral, Florida
    • 2013 Miami Grand Prix – Doral Florida
    • 2013 World Judo Cadet – Doral Florida
    • 2013 Florida Judo Open, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
    • 2013 Cuban Sports Hall of Fame – JUDO Miami, Florida
    • 2014 Florida Sports – Renee Duschnee Sports AWARD
    • 2014 Florida State Sunshine Games – Head Referee
    • 2014 Florida Judo Open – Head Referee
    • 2014 Senior Nationals – US Referee Commission
    • 2014 Jr. Olympic – US Referee Commission
    • 2014 US Jr. Open, Senior and Veterans Championships – US Referee commission
    • 2015 Florida State Sunshine Games – Head Referee
    • 2015 Florida Judo Open – Head Referee
    • 2015 Senior Nationals – US Referee Commission
    • 2015 Jr. Olympic – US Referee Commission
    • 2015 US Jr. Open, Senior and Veterans Championships – US Referee Commission
    • 2016 Florida State Sunshine Games – Head Referee
    • 2016 Florida Judo Open – Head Referee
    • 2016 US Senior Nationals – US Referee Commission
    • 2016 US Jr. Olympic – US Referee Commission
    • 2016 US Jr. Open, Senior and Veterans Championships – US Referee Commission
    • 2016 World Judo Veteran Championship – US Referee Commission – JURY
    • 2017 Florida State Sunshine Games – Head Referee
    • 2017 Florida Judo Open – Head Referee
    • 2017 US Jr. Olympic – US Referee Commission
    • 2017 US Jr Open, Senior and Veterans Championships – US Referee Commission
    • 2017 Dallas/President Cup – US Referee Commission
    • 2017 President Cup – US Referee Commission
    • 2018 Florida State Sunshine Games – Head Referee
    • 2018 Florida Judo Open – Head Referee
    • 2018 US Jr. Olympic – US Referee Commission
    • 2018 US Jr Open, Senior and Veterans Championships – US Referee Commission
    • 2018 Dallas/President Cup – US Referee Commission
    • 2018 President Cup – US Referee Commission
    • 2018 Continental Crown – US Referee Commission
    • 2019 Florida State Sunshine Games – Head Referee
    • 2019 Florida Judo Open – Head Referee
    • 2019 US Jr. Olympic – US Referee Commission
    • 2019 US Jr Open, Senior and Veterans Championships – US Referee Commission
    • 2019 Dallas/President Cup – US Referee Commission
    • 2019 President Cup – US Referee Commission
    • 2019 Cohen Judo Tournament – Referee Jury

2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic Judo Referees

U.S. Olympic Judo Referees (left to right) – Joon Chi (Sydney Australia, 2000), Noboru Saito (Athens Greece, 2004), Hector Estevez (Beijing China, 2008), Gary Takemoto (Rio De Janeiro Brazil, 2016) and Robert Fukuda (London England, 2012)

© 2021, USJF, all rights reserved