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'Mother of Judo' Who'd Take You Down Lifted Womens Sports Up

The Debbie Nigro Show

Release Date: 05/14/2021

"Humor Beats Cancer" The Bright Side Of Dark Humor

The Debbie Nigro Show

I started following a fabulous non-profit called “Humor Beats Cancer” on Instagram. I had a sense from what I was reading there that the Editor, Olivia from Chicago and I were of the same ‘spirit”. I was right. Olivia and I are a few decades apart but exactly on the same page when it comes to understanding how important humor and attitude are to getting through cancer. To be able tot look on the bright side during dark times makes a difference in the experience of battling cancer a little easier. Olivia and I are both breast cancer survivors. I love that she’s made it her mission to...

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Helluva Lesson In Family Business From 2nd Gen CEO show art Helluva Lesson In Family Business From 2nd Gen CEO

The Debbie Nigro Show

There are 5.5 Million 'Family Businesses' in America That Employ About 98 Million People. Family Business is a very tricky dynamic says Joe Armentano, CEO of Paraco Gas Corporation, one of the most highly recognizable brands in the propane industry. Joe is about to release his first book, detailing the incredible entrepreneurial journey of Paraco Gas that started with his Dad Pat back in 1968 in Mt Vernon, N.Y.  “A Helluva Ride" includes the inside stories of his family-owned and operated company which he has overseen over the last 40 years and shares some important lessons learned in...

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More Older Women Are Dating Younger Men show art More Older Women Are Dating Younger Men

The Debbie Nigro Show

It's An Official Dating Trend: More Older Women Are Dating Younger Men Julie Spira America’s Top Online Dating Expert & Digital Matchmaker says yes it's a trend and it's because women have more independence and economic stability these days and because younger men like an older woman's confidence. 'Confidence' Julie says, is sexy at any age.  I love Julie Spira who I met back in college. When I saw she joined the TODAY show on this subject the other day I invited her to join me to talk more about what's going on in the 2021 dating world. Julie was involved in the TODAY show segment...

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Moving Forward After Profound Loss   show art Moving Forward After Profound Loss

The Debbie Nigro Show

Getting Through Profound Loss Is Not Simple As Many Of You Reading This Likely Know.  Susan Sall Warner's son died by suicide 3 years ago and her husband unexpectedly died from cancer 6 months later. (Correction from the '3' months mentioned in the podcast conversation) Very tough losses to move on from. Susan graciously agreed to talk with me about the often taboo subject of suicide, about what one is supposed to say to a mother who's endured such a tragedy, about how she endured the double whammy of the unexpected loss of her husband soon after, and how a 'widow -woman- human' who's...

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'Stupid Things I Won't Do When I Get Old'  show art 'Stupid Things I Won't Do When I Get Old'

The Debbie Nigro Show

What Age is Old? Hmmm I'm 'Delusionally Young' So I Don't Really Know How To Answer. What I do know, is people nowadays don’t want to age the way their parents or grandparents did. For the 70 Million Baby Boomers 55+ in U.S. 'old age' always seems to start 'tomorrow.' Award Winning NY Times Contributor Steven Petrow agrees this generation does not want to age the way previous generations did and neither does he, so he wrote a whole new blueprint. To find out if you're old (lol) and get some great inspiration for your own 'new old age' you should check out Steven's terrific new book...

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MARVEL-ous Stunt Woman Janeshia Adams-Ginyard  show art MARVEL-ous Stunt Woman Janeshia Adams-Ginyard

The Debbie Nigro Show

Janeshia Adams-Ginyard is very cool and very talented. A 'stunt woman extraordinaire' you've probably seen her perform her incredible stunt work in movies like Avengers, Black Panther, True Blood and her recent Emmy nominated work in Lovecraft Country! Janeshia's currently working on the set of her latest project, a new untitled Marvel Production, but she stopped by to chat right before the Emmy Awards. This  year for the very first time the Academy created an Emmy Award for OUTSTANDING STUNT PERFORMANCE. And although there were other women nominated as part of a stunt team, Janeshia...

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Discovered A New Place To Take Some Fun Shots show art Discovered A New Place To Take Some Fun Shots

The Debbie Nigro Show

My gal pal Lisa who lives far from me had missed me during Covid. She texted me to come join her for some networking fun at a place called Pinstripes in Norwalk, CT. Her gal pal Sherry who I love, had taken over the Director Of Sales position there. I'd never heard of Pinstripes. Sounded to me like it might be a baseball joint or sports venue. I love my pal Lisa and she told me to bring my other half Dave, and Dave and I said what the heck and went for a change of pace. I'm so glad we did. We had so much fun and were so impressed with the place (not a baseball joint) I thought some...

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Rest Assured When Your Name Is A Rest Stop You've Arrived!  show art Rest Assured When Your Name Is A Rest Stop You've Arrived!

The Debbie Nigro Show

Soon You'll See This Billboard In New Jersey. They're About To Re-Name Their Garden State Parkway Rest Stops After Home Town Celebs! You're encouraged to stop by and besides reaching for a cool drink, maybe pick up some life inspiration shared by these Jersey icons as to how to reach for your own stars.   Steve Edwards is President of The New Jersey Hall of Fame which is overseeing the project. He joins me for a fun conversation to share the back story, talk about the home town celebs getting the honor and share all the cool things each rest stop will soon feature. Also how and when...

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 New Role Models In Barbie Dolls Honoring Frontline Workers   show art New Role Models In Barbie Dolls Honoring Frontline Workers

The Debbie Nigro Show

Barbie Dolls Are Now Honoring Front Line Workers! Mattel, Inc. just announced that Barbie® will donate $5 for the sale of every eligible Barbie doctor, nurse and paramedic doll sold at Target during August to the First Responders Children’s Foundation (FRCF), benefiting the children of first responders. These special Barbie dolls give children the opportunity to role-play with everyday heroes who show up for us in emergencies 365 days a year. LOVE THIS! Go Barbie Jillian Crane, President of First Responders Children's foundation joined me for a great conversation that makes me love Barbie...

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Do You Have The Guts To Go On A Spaceflight ?  show art Do You Have The Guts To Go On A Spaceflight ?

The Debbie Nigro Show

Would You Go On a Spaceflight? Could Your Body Take It? While watching Richard Branson and Crew and then Jeff Bezos and crew take their historic flights this Summer in real time all I could think about was... no way I'm going. I don't do underground tunnels or above ground cooped up. So I can't even imagine outer space cooped up! Also I don't like feeling heavy. Did you know the people on board these sort of missions feel 3.5 times their normal weight on their way to an altitude of more than 50 miles? I panic when I feel 10 pounds heavier so I'm out. Also what about getting nauseous on a...

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I would not have wanted to mess with Rena 'Rusty' Kanakogi, the  Mother Of Judo if I met her along the way but I do sure wish I had met her. She defied the rules and shattered the glass ceiling for  women to be taken seriously in sports.  I love stories of pioneers and triumph over adversity and thought you would enjoy this story too. 

Raised mostly by members of a boardwalk 'freak show' family on Coney Island in the 50's, this young jewish gal from Brooklyn was the leader of a girl gang who just wanted to fight. 'Rusty' had a lot of pent up energy and that was the way she released it. Until...

As a young married woman while accompanying her first husband to an AA meeting to support his battle with alcoholism, 'Rusty' met a friend there who was in unbelievable shape. She asked him what he did to get into that shape. He said 'Judo". She said. "What the heck is Judo"? So he picks up this big strong woman like a piece of paper onto his hip and she says, "That's it! Whatever it is you're doing I'm going to learn it. "

So next... this young Jewish woman walks into the Utica, NY Young Mens Christian Association (YMCA) a move unheard of at the time. and asks to take the class but they say, sorry women not allowed. Grrr. She persisted. It was 1959. They agreed to let her take a class some days if she also agreed to teach YMCA classes to other women other days. Ads for the YMCA classes in the newspaper read something like this. 'Come learn to be a good wife and serve your husband and press his pants but also come take a Judo class with Rusty'. LOL 

Then... The Utica YMCA Male Judo Team was competing in The Championships and was about to win, when a teammate got hurt. To save the day, the coach asked 'Rusty' to just go in and substitute so they didn't have to forfeit but said don't call attention to yourself. Just call a draw. Well that didn't happen.

'Rusty' who looked kind of androgynous with her short hair, wrapped her chest with an ace bandage and went in and beat the heck out of her opponent and won the Gold Medal. When they they found out she was a woman they asked her to give it back. She was soooo angry. She gave it back so  her team didn't have to forfeit but that anger set her off on a 50 year quest to make sure no other woman in sport would ever suffer that injustice.

Rena 'Rusty' Kanakogi founded, organized and financed the first Women’s World Judo Championships, held at Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 29 and 30, 1980, putting women’s judo on the map and earning the United States the international women’s level competition status required to qualify for inclusion in the Olympic Games. She has been recognized as “the  mother of women’s judo” for her inarguable contribution to the sport.  She was the first woman to rise to the rank of  seventh–degree black belt. In 2008 she was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette from the Emperor’s Order of Japan for her lifelong contribution to the  promotion of judo. Her ashes are interred in the Kanokogi Samurai family grave  site in Kumamoto, Japan, marked with the epitaph “American Samurai.” 

A street in Brooklyn has been named Rena “Rusty” Kanokogi Way.

Jean Kanogi considered  "the daughter of judo" joins me today. Jean spent her years on the mats with her Mom and these days is a Senior Special Agent for the U.S. Government, a fifth degree black belt and highly respected sensei (teacher) of judo. Most notably, Jean was one of the original signers of the American Civil Liberty Union suit to fight for women’s rights in the sport of judo. She mentors high-risk youth, earned her PhD (a promise to Rusty!) and serves on the evaluation committee for the Rusty Kanokogi Fund for the Advancement of US Judo, a scholarship program managed by the Women’s Sports Foundation.

"Rusty' passed 12 years ago and her daughterJean finally finished the book they started writing together which comes out June 1st.

Get Up & Fight: The Memoir of Rena “Rusty” Kanokogi, The Mother of Women’s Judo

By Rena “Rusty” Kanokogi & Jean Kanokogi, PhD

Foreword by Billie Jean King

Second Foreword by the late Dick Schaap