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Yosh Uchida, US Judo Hall of Fame: 1993

Yoshihiro “Yosh” Uchida, a San Jose State graduate and former coach who played a crucial role in promoting judo in America, passed away at the age of 104. Uchida was a prominent figure at San Jose State for over eight decades, transforming the school into a powerhouse in the martial art of judo. He organized the first collegiate national championship in 1960 and led San Jose State to over 40 titles. Uchida was instrumental in making judo an Olympic sport, with its debut in the 1964 Tokyo Games.

Born on April 1, 1920, in Calexico and raised in Garden Grove, Uchida took up judo at the age of 10. After attending Fullerton Junior College and then transferring to San Jose State, he became a student-coach for the judo program. His life took a dramatic turn when he was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II, while his family was sent to internment camps.

After the war, Uchida returned to San Jose State and resumed his work in judo, despite facing significant racism. He graduated with a degree in biological science in 1947 and continued to develop the judo program at the university. Uchida also built a successful business career, owning a chain of medical laboratories.

Uchida’s contributions to judo and his community were profound. He founded the Japanese American Chamber of Silicon Valley and the National Collegiate Judo Association. San Jose State’s judo program thrived under his guidance, becoming a major center for the sport on the West Coast.

He is survived by his daughters Lydia Uchida-Sakai and Aileen Uchida, grandchildren Michael and Kyle Sakai, and step-grandchildren Abigail and Jared Shapiro. Memorial service details are yet to be announced.