Haruo Imamura was born on September 4, 1933. He was raised in Tamana, Japan. Haruo started judo training at age ten. He quickly ascended to prominence leading his Tamana High School judo team to national recognition. Having been recruited by a number of traditional powerhouse judo universities, Haruo decided on the upstart and little known Tenri University. He was honored by the position of captain for the very first Tenri University Judo Team. Under the intense training of Yasuichi Matsumoto, Tenri University won their first national championship in only their second year of inception. Haruo served as captain for four years, the only Tenri captain to ever do so. Tenri University is currently recognized as one of the most famous judo universities in the world, having produced numerous Olympic and World judo champions. Judo served as a vehicle for Haruo to visit the United States as part of an All Japan Collegiate Judo Team in 1955. He was captivated by the American culture and found the love of his life, Sumiko Kurokawa. Haruo and Sumiko were married in 1962, and settled in Fresno, CA. Haruo continued his judo career in America winning United States titles in 1960 and 1962. His subsequent years were spent teaching judo to countless students at the Fresno Judo Club, California State University, Fresno, and other clubs around the San Joaquin Valley. His intense style of training in combination with the highest standard of superb judo technique garnered the utmost respect from the judo community. He taught judo to everybody that was willing regardless of color or creed, claiming that the only prejudice he had was against lazy people. His coaching success also included National Collegiate Judo titles for Fresno State in 1985 and 1988. He continued to teach judo for the Department of Kinesiology at Fresno State until months before his passing. Haruo Imamura is considered an American judo icon, having been recently promoted to ninth degree black belt and a recent induction into the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame. He is survived by his eldest son, Robert Imamura and wife Sheryl; grandsons, Ryan and Kyle; second son, Richard Imamura; third son, Rodney Imamura and wife Lori; grandsons, Isaak, Kai, and Eli; fourth son, Randy Imamura and wife Delva; and granddaughters, Miranda, Marissa, and Megan. A Funeral Service will be held at the Fresno Betsuin Family Dharma Center, 2690 E. Alluvial, Fresno, CA 93720, on Sunday, September 24, 2017, at 3:00 p.m. Lisle Funeral Home, 1605 'L' Street, Fresno, California (559)266-0666
Published in Fresno Bee on Sep. 22, 2017.