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A Complete Biography Tommy Kono

A Complete Biography Tommy Kono

Tommy Kono was born in Hawaii in 1930, but he was evacuated to California during World War II as part of the Japanese-American Internment. It was there that he began weightlifting and soon found himself excelling at the sport. He went on to compete in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, where he set a world record in the clean-and-jerk event. He would go on to break his world record four more times. In total, Kono won two Olympic gold medals and six world championships. But Tommy Kono’s accomplishments didn’t stop there. He also held the title of “Mr. Universe” three times and was inducted into the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame in 1999. Kono passed away in 2017, but his legacy continues. Read on to learn more about this incredible man and his impressive career.

Tommy Kono

Tommy Kono was born on November 24, 1930, in Sacramento, California. He was of Japanese descent and his family was farmers. He attended Sacramento High School, where he was a star swimmer. In 1948, he competed in the Olympic Games in London, England, and won a gold medal in the weightlifting competition.

After the Olympics, Kono moved to Los Angeles to train with legendary weightlifter John Grimek. He won the Mr. America title in 1950 and Mr. Universe in 1951 and 1952. In 1953, he set world records in the snatch and clean-and-jerk and became the first man to lift more than 400 pounds (180 kilograms) in total. He retired from competition after winning the world championships in 1954 and 1955.

Kono opened a chain of weightlifting gyms in Hawaii and California and wrote several books on weightlifting. He coached the U.S. weightlifting team at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City and the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany. He died on April 24, 2016, at his home in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Tommy Kono’s Early Life

Tommy Kono was born in Sacramento, California, on June 27, 1930. His parents were immigrants from Japan who had come to the United States in the early 1900s. Kono’s father worked as a waiter and his mother as a seamstress. As a child, Kono was very interested in sports and weightlifting. He began weightlifting when he was just 10 years old and by the time he was 13, he had already won his first weightlifting competition.

During World War II, Kono and his family were sent to an internment camp for Japanese Americans. It was there that Kono met Abe Katchalov, a Russian weightlifter who taught him the proper techniques of weightlifting. After the war, Kono continued to compete in weightlifting competitions and soon became one of the best in the world. In 1952, he won the gold medal in the lightweight category at the Helsinki Olympic Games. He also won gold medals at the 1954 World Championships and the 1955 Pan American Games.

Tommy Kono’s Career

Tommy Kono’s career began in the early 1950s when he started weightlifting for the United States Air Force. He quickly began to make a name for himself, winning his first national championship in 1953. From there, he went on to win two more national championships and set multiple world records.

In 1956, Kono competed in his first Olympic Games, held in Melbourne, Australia. He won the gold medal in the middleweight division, setting a new Olympic record in the process. He followed this up with another gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

Kono retired from competition after the 1960 Olympics but remained involved in weightlifting as a coach and administrator. In 1984, he was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Tommy Kono passed away on December 9, 2016, at the age of 85.

Tommy Kono’s Later Years

In the later years of his life, Tommy Kono continued to be an active and accomplished weightlifter. In addition to his many competitive successes, he also served as the coach of the United States weightlifting team at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

After he retired from competition, Kono remained involved in the sport of weightlifting as a coach and administrator. He was inducted into the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame in 1999 and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004. Kono passed away in 2016 at the age of 85.

Tommy Kono’s Death

Tommy Kono’s death was a shock to the weightlifting world. He was only 54 years old when he passed away from complications related to diabetes. Kono was a two-time Olympic champion and held world records in both the snatch and the clean and jerk. He was also a five-time world champion and held numerous national and international titles. Kono’s accomplishments made him one of the most decorated weightlifters of all time.

Kono’s death came as a surprise to many because he had been relatively healthy up until his final years. Just a few months before his death, Kono had competed in a masters weightlifting tournament and placed first in his age group. His friends and family believe that Kono’s diabetes played a role in his untimely passing.

Weightlifting fans around the world mourned the loss of Tommy Kono. He was truly one of the greats of the sport and his legacy will live on for many years to come.


Tommy Kono was an accomplished weightlifter and coach. He won numerous titles and set multiple world records. After retirement, he became a successful businessman. Tommy Kono was an inspirational figure who overcame many obstacles in his life to become one of the most successful weightlifters of all time

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