A SPECIAL TWOJ INTERVIEW
By: Barnaby Chesterman
the second time, Danny Kingston has announced his retirement from
competitive Judo. But this time, on the verge of the Olympic Games,
it looks as though he really means it. In recent years Danny has been
one of Britain's most exciting and unpredictable fighters, but a consistent
medal winner. In the last year alone he has won the British Open at
-81 Kgs, beating World Champion Graeme Randall in the process, gone
to decision against the Olympic Champion, Kenzo Nakamura, in the -73
Kgs at the World Championships, and anchored the British men's team
to its Silver medal in the European Team Championships, winning all
his fights at -81 Kgs. He still seems to be at the top of his form.
So why has he retired? The World of Judo went looking for some answers.
TWOJ: Where did you develop your Judo?
DK: I started at a small local club in Hayes when I was 5.
When I was 9 my parents moved to the country and I joined Pinewood
JC and stayed there until I was 15 and a 1st kyu. Without many seniors
to practice with I then decided to move to Camberley, where I got
my 1st Dan (still my grade!) and stayed until I was 21.
TWOJ: Where have you trained since you left Camberley?
DK: After a short period at the Budokwai I moved to Holland
to Kenamju and stayed there until my first retirement, because of
personal problems, in 1997. When I came back to Britain later that
year, I joined Wandsworth Lightning, but still continued to represent
Kenamju as well.
TWOJ: Who has been the major influence on your Judo carreer?
DK: Cor Van der Geest, the coach of Kenamju in Holland. I think
he is the best coach in the World and the BJA could learn a lot from
the highly professional set up he has developed at his club, where
in one small town he has over 150 senior members. He knows better
than anyone how to get the best out of his fighters.
TWOJ: Do you have any heroes in Judo?
DK: Waldemar Legien the double Olympic Champion from Poland
who was a fantastic tactician, and Germany's Udo Quellmalz, whose
victory at the Olympic Games was the best series of wins at the Games
TWOJ: What have been your best moments in Judo?
DK: I think I've most enjoyed myself on the training camps
abroad with friends like Ryan Birch, Ray Stevens, Keith Davis and
Nigel Donohue. The feeling of camerarderie on occasions like these
is hard to beat, even when you win a big medal.
TWOJ: What was your most memorable contest?
DK: That's a hard question, but I remember very well my first
really major fight, for the Junior World Bronze medal, against a German
called Bucholz. I scored a Waza-ari in the first ten seconds and had
to fight for my life for what seemed a never-ending 5 minutes. Then
I caught him for another Waza-ari in the last ten seconds.
TWOJ: What do you think makes a great fighter?
DK: I think the fighter has to be very determined and an individual.
You have to develop your own judo, let your individuality show and
stamp your personality on the fight. I'm not really a team player,
although I enjoy team contests and all the spirit that goes with that
TWOJ: Why have you retired now when you still have a very good
chance to qualify for the Olympic Games?
DK: I don't believe that I can successfully make the weight
enough times to qualify the weight and I've suffered through that
before. Because of the selectors policy in 1995 I had to make the
weight too many times before the 1995 World Championships and, as
a result, wasn't able to prepare properly for the tournament. I think
I could have pulled a better result there with the right preparation.
I think I prepared really well for last year's Worlds and I still
think I won the fight against the Olympic Champion, Nakamura, but
the decision went against me, - that's judo.
TWOJ: So what's next, do you have any further ambitions in
DK: Right now I'm coaching Judo in some schools, but I only
see myself doing that for a couple of years. I would like to be able
to pass on my expertise, I think I've got a lot to offer, but I can't
see that there's a realistic route open to working with top class
TWOJ: Are you still training?
DK: Yes, I really want to keep fit. I'm doing more weights
now than I ever did while I was fighting. I will continue training
at Wandsworth, and I'm taking the occasional class at the Budokwai.
TWOJ: Is there any way we could see you back in action again
or is this really it?
DK: No, this is really it. But if something terrible happened,
and Graeme got injured I think I would be the best person to deputise
for him in Sydney. If they asked me to do that, I'd be there.
TWOJ: Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers.
DK: I'd just like to wish all the lads the best of luck in
the qualifying tournaments and hope everything goes well in Sydney.
5th Place World Championships
Senior European Champion
European Club Cup Champion (with Kenamju)
German World Masters
Tournoi de Paris
Junior World Bronzes