Obituary Roy Inman OBE 9th dan
31st May 2015
Roy Inman OBE, who has died aged 69, was simply one of the most influential British judoka of his generation. Hugely respected and admired he achieved as an athlete, coach, coach educator, administrator and author.
Born and brought up in Hounslow, Middlesex, he was English Schools pole-vault champion, and married to childhood sweetheart Carol, before turning to judo at the relatively late age of 23.
As a yellow belt he joined the Budokwai beginner’s class, under Tony Reay in 1968, and remained a lifelong member. He made rapid progress, gaining his 1st dan, and then 2nd dan, both within 18 months. He won the British Open in 1969 at Light Heavyweight. The following year he retained his British Open title, beating Angelo Parisi in the semi-final. The same month he also won the BJC Open Championship defeating Robin Otani by 2 wazaris to end a gruelling 10 minute final.
Representing Great Britain for the first time in 1970, in 1972 he won the Swedish Open beating East Germany’s Dietmar Lorenz. In 1975 he came down from u93kg to u80kg to compete in the World Championships in Vienna. In Japan he lived at Sekijuku with Isao Okano, who shared his love for Cliff Richard records, and furnished Roy with an armchair and a fork to alleviate the difficulties of a foreigner living in Japan. His training partner was Ozawa Yoshimi who he rates as one of the best he ever trained with.
Whilst still an active athlete, in 1974 Roy was the Official GB coach for the 1st Women’s European Tournament in Genoa, where both Lynn Tilley and Christine Child won Gold medals. This was the start of a remarkable international coaching career which saw him coach at 4 Olympic Games, winning 6 Olympic medals. Under his leadership Great Britain women won 14 World Championship and 26 European Championship Gold medals. These athletes included the first ever women’s world champion Jane Bridge, 4 times world champion, and daughter-in-law Karen Briggs, and current Great Britain Lead Coach Kate Howey MBE.
Fairholme Judo Club, in Bedfont was the factory where for many years his coaching genius was crafted. He welcomed all comers, and taught the children’s classes before training himself, coaching the national team members, and enjoying a cold lager after a sauna. Sharing stories, of past judoka, that grew with humour each time they were told.
He was Head Coach for England at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, winning seven of the eight available gold medals. He built a legacy for British Women’s judo. Incredibly, athletes he coached won a medal in every Senior World Championships over a 21 year period, between 1980 and 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Head Coach at the University of Bath, and had the opportunity to develop another generation of judoka, and was awarded a Full Blue.
He instigated the practice of uchikomi to music, and leaves a legacy of judoka who know every beat of the Suzi Quatro and The Osmonds playlists. As a karaoke singer, his favourite was Sinatra’s “Summer Wind”.
He was awarded International Coach of the Year, by the Princess Royal in 1991, and the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty the Queen in 1992.
Roy was extremely active as a coach educator with his Technical Review of the Year at the High Wycombe Judo Centre, becoming a key date in the calendar. He delivered countless Club Coach Award courses, instigated the BJA Instructor award, and taught on the European Judo Union Level 5 Coach Award. He joined the Judospace delivery team as Technical Advisor, helping develop more coaches in Australia and around the world.
As an Administrator he has made a significant contribution to the development of British Judo. Serving on the Board of Directors of the British Judo Association Ltd for 12 years and serving on several sub-committees including the Coaching Commission, and the Promotions Panel. On retirement from the Board of the Directors of the BJA in 2013 he was appointed as a Vice-President.
He has been Chairman of the Northern Home Counties for 18 years, a Director of the High Wycombe Judo Centre for 23 years, and Chair of Fairholme Judo Club for over 30 years. He believed that judo should be run by judo people, and that funds should find their way to the youngsters competing and the clubs that supported them.
Author of 10 books, including the BJA Dan Grade Syllabus (1981), and the BJA Technical Dan Grade Syllabus (2008), in 2003 Roy authored an academic poster presented at the International Science of Judo Symposium in Osaka.
Roy received his 1st dan from Trevor Leggett in 1969, and in 2013 he was awarded 9th dan of the International Judo Federation.
Roy is survived by his loving wife Carol, his three children, his adoring grandchildren and great grandchildren. Our thoughts are with them.
It is impossible to out into a contest hoping to find an idiot at the end of your arms
Roy Inman OBE 9th dan