Olympic Champion to Operate National Championship and Create Annual Kayla Harrison Cup

(Colorado Springs; June 28, 2016) Kayla Harrison, the first ever American Olympic gold medalist in judo, and USA Judo Chief Executive Jose Rodriguez announced today that they had reached an historic agreement whereby Harrison’s company, KHE, Inc., will assume control of organizing and operating the US National Championships for five years beginning with the 2018 edition. It is believed to be the first time a National Governing Body of an Olympic sport has granted such broad rights to one of its athletes.

“I am so excited about this”, said Harrison who just returned from a gold medal performance at the Budapest Grand Prix event, her final tune up prior to the Rio Olympic Games in August. “Judo is a sport that instills discipline and respect while requiring strength and athletic skill. I want to see it grow in the United States. By becoming the promoter of the National Championship I will have a platform to help guide the sport into the future which is really important to me.”

“USA Judo with this agreement, continues its efforts to use past Olympians, and former athletes to grow the sport in our nation. USA Judo is one of the few national governing bodies in the United States to use Olympic medalist and past national champions in its management, and growth, good example of this is Jimmy Pedro, Olympic Coach; Eddie Liddie, Director of High Performance; Mike Swain, San Jose National Training Center; Pat Burris, Coaches Certification and Corinne Shigemoto, COO. “ said, Jose H. Rodriguez, CEO of USA Judo the past 11 years.

“It is important to USA Judo to keep Kayla involved with our sport and our organization once she completes her very successful competitive career in Rio this summer. We will continue to look for ways not only for Kayla to stay involved but we will soon announce similar agreements with some of our other athletes. It is crucial for USA Judo to continue to support our athletes as they retire and wish to continue to give back to this great Olympic sport.” Added Mr. Lance Nading, President of USA Judo the past 8 years and under who’s watch Kayla accomplished the feat of winning the first ever gold medal for Judo in the United States.

The pact also gives Ms. Harrison a sanction for a new event, The Kayla Harrison Cup.

Said Harrison “The Kayla Harrison Cup will enable me to create a new event that will be designed to attract the top international stars to compete in the United States on an annual basis. The American public doesn’t get to see these great athletes very often so I am hoping that an event like this will inspire greater interest in our sport. I look forward to developing this new event in conjunction with USA Judo.”

Support for this ground breaking agreement was felt throughout the sport.

USA Olympic team coach Jimmy Pedro, himself a two time Olympic medalist and Harrison’s coach and mentor praised the deal. “For an athlete of Kayla’s stature to take this kind of interest in growing judo is unprecedented. Having the national championships in her hands immediately raises the bar and gives the event the credibility it deserves.”

Marti Malloy, Harrison’s Olympic teammate and the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, said “I haven’t competed in the US Nationals for a few years and I am so excited to take part in the refreshed style of the event that will surely be a huge success with Kayla behind it!”

The 2016 National Championship, where Harrison won her 9th national title, took place in April in Dallas. The 2017 Nationals are scheduled for next April in Salt Lake City. Harrison’s debut as promoter of the event will be in 2018 when the event moves to November to better fit with the international judo schedule.


For more information contact Jerry Solomon at StarGames. 781.224.9655 or jerry@stargamesinc.com


About USA Judo:

USA Judo, a 501-c-3 non-profit organization, is governed by a Board of Directors. Per the USA Judo Bylaws, the Board of Directors consists of 10 directors. The immediate past President of USA Judo shall serve as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Board of Directors. USA Judo is managed on a day-to-day basis by a six-member full-time staff in the USA Judo National Office, located at the Olympic Sports House in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


About Kayla Harrison:

When Harrison won gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games, she became the first American judoka of either gender to become Olympic champion. In 2010, Harrison became only the fourth American to win a world title; she is the 2015 Pan American Games champion and the #1 judoka in the world in her division. She has eight individual Senior National Championships spread over three weight divisions. Harrison will set her sights on defending her Olympic title in Rio on August 11, 2016.