The Judo Community mourns the loss of Rene Capo
Two-time Olympian Rene Capo succumbed to a year-long battle with lung cancer on Monday, July 6 at the age of 48.
Capo coached and competed for the Glenville, NY-based Jason Morris Judo Center for a little over 2 years before moving to Naperville, IL in the spring of 2007. Capo, who competed at the 1988 and 1996 Olympic Games, made a comeback to the sport at the age of 46 when the seven-time Senior Nationals medalist returned to judo in 2007.
Although he was viewed as a top candidate for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, Capo fell just short of qualifying for the Trials after defeating many of the top 100kg players throughout the season. Just over two months after he placed fifth at the USA Judo Senior National Championships in April, 2008, Capo was diagnosed with lung cancer.
A native of Miami, Capo excelled in both judo, football and wrestling. The natural athlete not only won national titles in judo in three decades (1970s, 80s and 90s), but Rene also played Big Ten college football for the University of Minnesota alongside some great players including future Denver Broncos' star Karl Mecklenburg.
Capo came back to judo and miraculously made the 1988 Olympic team where he would form a life long friendship with teammate and JMJC owner,Jason Morris. "Rene Capo competed in judo, in football and in the end he competed for his life," said Bob Berland (1984 Olympic Silver Medalist), Capo's teammate at the 1988 Olympic Games. "In the Olympics it's not about winning or losing; it's about the struggle. Today one of ours lost his battle to cancer but he fought till the bitter end and will forever be a champion who lost the battle, but whose spirit has won the war! We will miss you Rene Capo - a great competitor, but more importantly a great father and a great friend to us all!
Capo leaves behind two young children, Alex, 11, and Anthony, 8.
"Rene was many things to many people, but for me he was a great friend, great father, great teammate and one hell of a judo competitor." said Jason Morris (Glenville, N.Y. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) who competed on the 1988 and 1996 Olympic Teams with Capo.
A fellow judo player, parent and coach offered anonymously that Rene's competitive career spanned his entire adult life. Rene has had an impact on every heavyweight and middleweight in USA judo and is an inspiration to us all. His living example of playing for the pure joy of it will always be a motivation by example in USA judo and in life as a whole. He will be missed but not forgotten.
Height: 6 ‘1
Hometown: Hialeah, Fl
Birthplace: Pina Del Rio, Cuba
Education: University of Minnesota (Class of '85)
Rank: Yodan (4th Degree Black Belt)
Hobbies: Tennis, Fishing, Jogging
Favorite Judo Player: Jason Morris (USA)
1996 Olympic Team Member, 95kg (Atlanta, GA)
1992 Olympic Team Alternate, 95kg
1988 Olympic Team Member, 86kg (Seoul, Korea)
* 96 US Olympic Trials (95kg) – Colorado Springs, CO
* 91 US Sr. Nationals (95kg) – Honolulu, HI
* 89 US Sr. Nationals (86kg) – Orlando, FL
* 88 US Olympic Trials (86kg) – Colorado Springs, CO
* 87 Pacific Rim (95kg) – Colorado Springs, CO
* 79 US Sr. Nationals (93kg) – San Francisco, CA
* 79 High School Nationals (93kg) – Rogers, AK
* 77 High School Nationals (80kg) – Yale, CT (Also was "Grand Champion")
* 98 US Sr. Nationals(+95kg) – Chicago, IL
* 95 Finnish Open (95kg) – Finland
* 90 Olympic Festival (95kg) – Minneapolis, MN
* 02 US Sr. Nationals (+100kg) – Cleveland, OH
* 99 US Open (+100kg) – Colorado Springs, CO
* 90 & 89 US Open(95kg) – Colorado Springs, CO
* 88 US Open (86kg) – Colorado Springs, CO
Mike Swain, Kevin Asano, Rene Capo, Jason Morris, Joe Marchal, Steve Cohen and Bob Berland