news news Obituary - Rick Littlewood

find a club

ak wb nw wn cd ca so


coaching resources

“do or not do - there is no try”
Obituary - Rick Littlewood
Saturday, 28 July 2018 16:30

We regret to advise that Rick Littlewood passed away on July 24th aged 77. He will be sadly missed by his wife Yumiko and family and also his many judo colleagues & friends.

Rick started Judo in 1959 at Hastings Judo Club and during the next 5 years was also member of the Otago University Judo Club, Dunedin & Invercargill Judo Club whilst attending Dunedin Teachers Collage.


Since that timer he has been a member of Judo New Zealand (Judo NZ) whilst resident in NZ.

From 1965 until 1972 he trained at Doshisha University Judo Club, Japan.  During this time he was progressively promoted to Kodokan 4th Dan.

Rick was our first Olympian and competed at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games as New Zealand’s first ever judo representative, finishing 9th equal. The single loss was to the eventual gold medallist (Sekine, JPN) by Hantai in the 4th round. Unfortunately, the then draw system meant that he didn’t qualify for a repechage.

Shortly after the Munich Olympics he returned returned to New Zealand and was appointed coach of Judokwai NZ (1948) Inc.

He was a member of JNZ teams at Oceania Championships in 1973, 1975 & finally at Rotorua in 1979.  He was the gold medallist in 1973 and 1975 but missed out on gold due to a controversial decision of the OJU Referees Commission. During this time he also became involved with refereeing and gained his National A Referee Licence.

From 1983 Rick has been Sensei/Coach of Auckland University Judo Club and was coaching on the mat the night before he passed away.

Rick also competed in New Zealand Judo tournaments from 1962 to 1985 winning the national championships on multiple occasions.

Rick continued to compete in Masters events and received a special award from the Kodokan in recognition of entering the All Japan High Grade Competition 20 times and he also  received technical excellence awards on 5 occasions at this competition. During this time he was also the Japan Veterans International Judo Tournament winner 8 times.

In the 1980’s & 90’s Rick was a member of Judo NZ’s Grading Commission and the New Zealand Kodokan Committee at various times.

Rick was progressively promoted through further grades until being attaining the high master grade of 8th Dan from Judo NZ in 2010 and the from Kodokan last December.

Our condolence to Yumiko & family.

Service Details:

A celebration of Rick’s life will be held on Monday, July 30th at 12 noon at the All Saints Chapel, Purewa Cemetery, 100-102 St Johns Road, Meadowbank, Auckland.


upcoming events

Tauranga Fun Day

Intermediate School Championships

National Secondary School Championships

Pacific Games

Event information is available on the documents page