The Netherlands is renowned for producing some of the world’s best judo players. From Olympic champions to world champions, Dutch judokas have left an indelible mark on the sport.
From Anton Geesink to Mark Huizinga, these judoka have won numerous medals at the prestigious Olympic Games and World Championships. This article will highlight some of the best judo players from the Netherlands and their incredible accomplishments.
1. Wim Ruska
Willem “Wim” Ruska was a Dutch athlete who excelled in two sports: judo and professional wrestling. He was a pioneer in judo, becoming the first athlete to win two gold medals in the same Olympic Games.
This remarkable feat was achieved in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, where he won gold in both the heavyweight and absolute judo categories. Ruska was born in The Hague, Netherlands in 1939. He began training in judo at the age of 17, and his talent was clear from the start.
He would go on to become one of the most decorated judo athletes in history, winning numerous European and World Championships titles throughout his career.
In addition to his Olympic gold medals, he won a bronze medal in the heavyweight category at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Ruska also excelled in professional wrestling and was a member of the World Wrestling Federation from 1973 to 1977.
He won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in 1974 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. Willem “Wim” Ruska was an incredible athlete and a true pioneer in both judo and professional wrestling.
His remarkable performance in the 1972 Olympics will remain an inspiration for generations to come.
2. Kim Polling
Kim Polling is an outstanding Dutch judoka who competes in the women’s 70 kg division. She has achieved an impressive amount of success in her career, having been named Quadruple European Champion and proudly holding the title of World #1 for three consecutive years.
Her most recent accomplishment was winning the Grand Slam gold medal in Antalya in 2021. In addition to her success at this event, Kim Polling has also won various Grand Slams throughout her career.
She took gold at the Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi in 2019 and the Grand Prix in The Hague in 2017.
Her impressive list of accomplishments shows her dedication and hard work in the sport. Kim Polling has a bright future ahead of her and is sure to continue to be a leading competitor in the judo world.
She has established herself as one of the most successful judokas in the world, and her many titles are a testament to her skill and determination.
3. Anita Staps
Anita Staps is an impressive figure in the world of Judo. She is a retired judoka from the Netherlands who made history by becoming the first woman to win a world title in 1980 when women’s competitions were first introduced to the World Judo Championships.
Additionally, she achieved third place in the following three consecutive championships. Her impressive record does not stop there; between 1978 and 1986, she won seven national titles. Her achievements are a testament to her hard work and dedication to the sport.
Her accomplishments have not only inspired other women but have also raised the profile of the sport within the Netherlands. She is an inspiration to many and a role model for aspiring judokas everywhere.
4. Edith Bosch
Edith Bosch is a renowned Dutch judoka or Japanese martial art. She started her Olympic career at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, where she ended up in seventh place.
However, four years later, she was able to redeem her performance at the 2004 Summer Olympics, in the middleweight judo division, where she won a silver medal. That same year she was also crowned European champion.
Bosch’s accomplishments showcase her dedication to her sport and demonstrate her incredible talent. She is an inspiration to many and her success motivates aspiring judokas all over the world.
5. Frank de Wit
Frank de Wit is a Dutch judoka who has had a successful competitive career. In 2016, he competed in the men’s 81 kg event at the Summer Olympics, where he was eliminated by Ivaylo Ivanov in the second round.
Despite this, Frank de Wit continued to compete and in 2021 he achieved success by winning the silver medal in his event at the 2021 Judo World Masters held in Doha, Qatar.
This is a great accomplishment for Frank de Wit and shows how he is able to stay motivated and focused in the face of adversity. He is an inspiration to all judokas and serves as an example of how dedication and hard work can lead to success.
6. Ruben Houkes
Ruben Houkes is a Dutch judoka (a practitioner of the martial art Judo). He has achieved great success in the sport, winning gold at the 2007 World Judo Championships in the men’s -60 kg class.
This is no small feat, as the World Judo Championships are the highest-level international judo competition and an immense accomplishment. Additionally, Houkes achieved further success at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he won the bronze medal in the same men’s -60 kg class.
This is testament to his skill and dedication to the sport, as Olympic medals are amongst the highest honors in judo. Ruben Houkes is an impressive judoka and his achievements are a testament to his skill and commitment.
He is a role model for aspiring judoka and his success is an inspiration to many.
7. Peter Adelaar
Peter Adelaar was a renowned Dutch judoka, well-known for his impressive achievements in European championships. He won a total of six medals during his competitive career, including one gold and five bronze medals.
His most notable success was at the 1980 Summer Olympics, where he competed in both the heavyweight and open categories. Despite his best efforts, he only managed to finish in 10th and 15th place respectively.
Nonetheless, his accomplishments are an inspiration to many judokas, who strive to reach the same level of success as him.
8. Birgit Ente
Birgit Ente is a Dutch judoka, a form of martial arts that originated in Japan. She competes in the women’s 48 kg category, a lightweight division.
At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she was unable to advance beyond the second round of the competition and was ultimately defeated in her match.
Despite this, she is still a highly respected competitor in her field, having won several medals in international competitions, as well as numerous titles at the national level.
She is also a dedicated coach, training a new generation of judokas to follow in her footsteps and reach the heights of success she has achieved.
9. Sanne van Dijke
Sanne van Dijke is a Dutch judoka who has achieved great success in her field. She has won two gold medals at the European Championships, in 2017 and 2021, both in the 70 kg division.
Her success continued in 2020 when she won one of the bronze medals at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, in the women’s 70 kg event. To add to her accomplishments, Sanne is also a two-time bronze medalist in the same weight class at the World Judo Championships.
This is an impressive record of success that shows Sanne’s dedication and commitment to her sport. Her success has been an inspiration to many judokas around the world and is a testament to her hard work and determination.
10. Monique van der Lee
Monique van der Lee is a former Dutch judoka who achieved a great amount of success before retiring. She won four European championships as well as becoming the openweight world champion in 1995.
Her career culminated with the opportunity to compete in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, where unfortunately she was eliminated in the first round of the heavyweight competition.
Van der Lee was a dominant force in the judo world and was highly respected for her martial arts skills, knowledge and experience. She was an inspiration to many aspiring judokas, demonstrating that it is possible to reach the highest level of the sport despite the odds.
Her accomplishments are something to be proud of, and she will always be remembered as one of the greats.
11. Angelique Seriese
Angelique Elisabeth Seriese is a Dutch athlete who has achieved great success in the world of judo. She first gained recognition when she won a gold medal in the 72 kg division of the 1988 Summer Olympics.
This was a landmark moment, as it was the first time that women’s judo had been included as a demonstration sport in the Olympics. Series continued to dominate the world of judo, becoming world champion in the 72 kg category at the 1995 World Judo Championships.
This was an incredible achievement, as it was the first time that she had won the title. Her success in judo has made her an inspiration to many aspiring athletes, and she has set a great example of how determination and hard work can lead to success.
12. Tornike Tsjakadoea
Tornike Tsjakadoea is a Dutch judoka, a practitioner of the martial art of judo. He has represented the Netherlands in several international competitions, including the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Additionally, Tsjakadoea has competed at the World Judo Championships in 2018, 2019 and 2021. In 2020, Tsjakadoea achieved great success when he won one of the bronze medals in the men’s 60 kg event at the Judo Grand Slam Düsseldorf, which was held in Düsseldorf, Germany.
This accomplishment demonstrates his dedication and skill as a judoka, as the Grand Slam Düsseldorf is a highly competitive tournament featuring some of the best judokas from around the world.
Tsjakadoea’s bronze medal win is a testament to his hard work and dedication to the sport.
13. Roy Meyer
Roy Meyer is a Dutch judoka who competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He competed in the men’s 100 kg division, where he faced off against Or Sasson of Israel in the quarter-finals.
Unfortunately, Meyer was not able to defeat Sasson, who would go on to win a bronze medal. Meyer was then sent to the repechage, where he met Rafael Silva of Brazil. Unfortunately, Meyer was not able to defeat Silva either, who also won a bronze medal.
Despite not being able to advance further in the competition, Meyer’s performance was still impressive.
14. Deborah Gravenstijn
Dibora Monick Olga “Deborah” Gravenstijn is a Dutch judoka who has achieved great success in the Olympics. A native of the Netherlands, Gravenstijn is also a Captain in the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
She has been competing in judo since a young age and has achieved tremendous success in her sport. At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Gravenstijn won a bronze medal in the Women’s 57 kg category.
She would go on to improve on this result four years later at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where she won the silver medal in the same event.
This was an impressive feat and one which saw Gravenstijn become a national hero in her native country. Gravenstijn has continued to compete in judo and is a great example of someone who has achieved success in both their professional life and their sporting career.
She is an inspiration for young judokas and is a great role model for anyone who is striving to reach their goals.
15. Jon Bluming
Johannes Cornelius Bluming was an influential figure in martial arts. He was a Dutch martial artist, instructor, and actor who was renowned for his expertise in a variety of martial arts.
Bluming had a significant impact on martial arts, having achieved a 9th dan in Judo, 10th dan in Kyokushinkai Karate, and 10th dan in Hapkido.
He was also the coach of two-time Olympic champion Willem Ruska, making Bluming one of the most influential and respected martial artists of his time. Bluming was a true pioneer in the martial arts, and his influence was far-reaching.
He was known for having developed new techniques and approaches to martial arts, as well as for his teaching style that was composed of both physical and mental training.
Bluming was also an advocate for the importance of mental strength in martial arts, believing it was just as important as physical strength. Bluming was highly respected in the martial arts community and his legacy is still felt today.
His teachings and techniques are still studied and practiced, and his dedication to martial arts has inspired many to pursue the art. Bluming was a master of many martial arts, and his influence will continue to be felt for many years to come.
16. Dennis van der Geest
Dennis van der Geest is a judoka from the Netherlands. He achieved great success by winning the bronze medal in the men’s heavyweight division at the 2004 Summer Olympics.
He was born in Haarlem, North Holland, and it was there that he first began to develop his judo skills. In 2005, van der Geest achieved the highest accolade for a judoka when he became the world judo champion in the men’s open division.
He achieved this feat by besting Russian Tamerlan Tmenov in the final with a decisive ippon. This victory further cemented van der Geest’s reputation as one of the best judokas in the world, and he is now looked upon as an inspirational figure in the judo world.
17. Sanne Verhagen
Sanne Verhagen is a Dutch judoka who has had experience competing at the Olympic level. She made her debut at the 2016 Summer Olympics, entering the women’s 57 kg event. Unfortunately, she was eliminated in the second round by Dorjsürengiin Sumiyaa.
Despite the setback, Sanne persevered and returned to the Olympic stage four years later. She once again competed in the women’s 57 kg event, this time at the 2020 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan.
Her performance is yet to be seen, but she has demonstrated her commitment to excellence and her competitive spirit through her tenacity in continuing to compete at the Olympic level.
18. Ben Spijkers
Bernhard Hendrikus Martinus Spijkers is a retired Dutch judoka who has achieved remarkable success in the sport. He has had the privilege of representing his country at three consecutive Summer Olympic Games.
His greatest accomplishment came in Seoul, South Korea when he won a bronze medal in the men’s middleweight division. It was a remarkable achievement, as he was competing alongside Akinobu Osako from Japan, who also won a bronze medal in the same division.
This was a shared success between two Olympic athletes, from two different countries, that will forever be remembered. Spijkers’ success is a testament to the dedication and hard work he put in to achieve his goals.
His accomplishments will continue to inspire future generations of judoka to strive for excellence in the sport.
19. Anton Geesink
Antonius Johannes Geesink was a Dutch judoka who achieved a 10th dan ranking, the highest rank in judo. He was the first ever non-Japanese judoka to win gold at the World Judo Championships, which is a significant accomplishment in the world of judo.
Geesink was able to achieve this feat in 1961 as well as 1965, a testament to his greatness and skill. His success in the sport of judo has served as an inspiration to others who wish to follow in his footsteps.
Geesink helped to set the stage for non-Japanese judokas to become competitive on the world stage and his legacy will continue to live on.
20. Noël van ‘t End
Noël van ‘t End is a highly accomplished Dutch judoka. He achieved success at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, competing in the men’s 90 kg event.
His dedication to the sport has paid off, as in 2021, he won the gold medal in his event at the 2021 Judo World Masters held in Doha, Qatar. Noël van ‘t End is an experienced judoka, as he holds a black belt, the highest rank in the sport.
He is a role model for many young judokas as he has achieved success through hard work and dedication.
21. Sanne Vermeer
Sanne Vermeer is a Dutch judoka who has achieved notable success in the sport. In 2021, she won a bronze medal in the women’s 63 kg event in both the World Judo Championships and the European Judo Championships.
This was a remarkable achievement and further illustrates her dedication to the sport. Furthermore, in 2019 she also won a bronze medal in the same event at the European Games, held in Minsk, Belarus. This serves as a testament to her talent and commitment to judo.
Sanne Vermeer is a shining example of what is possible when hard work and dedication are applied to a sport.
22. Gegard Mousasi
Gegard Mousasi is an accomplished mixed martial artist and former kickboxer from the Netherlands. He currently competes in Bellator MMA, where his impressive record includes two titles as Bellator Middleweight Champion.
As of May 16, 2023, Mousasi is ranked number two in the Bellator Middleweight Rankings, a testament to his skill and success in the sport. Mousasi’s career has been highly successful.
He is a black belt in judo and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, both of which he has used to great advantage in Bellator MMA. He is also a former K-1 World Grand Prix champion, having won the 2006 K-1 World Grand Prix in Las Vegas.
Mousasi has competed in numerous promotions, including Pride Fighting Championships, Strikeforce, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Mousasi’s impressive record has earned him numerous accolades, including being named one of the top ten middleweights of all time by the UFC in 2021.
He has also been named Fighter of the Year by Sherdog and was honored with the Submission of the Year award by Fight Matrix in 2020. Mousasi’s current position in the Bellator Middleweight Rankings is a testament to his skill and success as a mixed martial artist.
He is one of the most decorated fighters in the sport and continues to show why he is one of the best in the business.
23. Françoise Harteveld
Françoise Harteveld is a Dutch judoka who started her judo career at a very young age. She joined Budosport Mahorokan in Maassluis when she was just three years old. Her JudoDad, Coos Henneveld, was her mentor and taught her all the necessary skills and techniques for judo.
As she got older and more experienced, her coach became Rob Henneveld, the son of her mentor. With him, she achieved a great number of titles and medals, just as she had under the guidance of her JudoDad.
Françoise Harteveld is a perfect example of a judoka with determination and ambition, as she has been practicing judo since the age of three and has won many awards and accolades.
24. Jackie Groenen
Jackie Noëlle Groenen is a professional athlete from the Netherlands. She is a talented footballer and former judoka and currently plays as a midfielder for the Division 1 Féminine club Paris Saint-Germain and the Netherlands national team.
Groenen has had an impressive career, both on the field and off, being a part of both international teams. Growing up, Groenen was exposed to many sports. She began training in judo when she was young and eventually earned a black belt.
She would go on to compete in competitions and win several awards. After that, she decided to pursue football and joined the Dutch club, Willem II, in 2011.
She went on to play with several clubs in the Netherlands before signing with PSG in 2019. Groenen has been a key member of the Netherlands national team since 2014.
She has played in several major tournaments, including the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017.
She has scored in both tournaments and has been a key contributor to the team’s success. Groenen’s impressive resume in football and judo have made her a well-respected athlete in both sports.
She is an inspiration to many aspiring athletes and continues to be a great example of excellence in sports.
25. Daniëlle Vriezema
Daniëlle Esmeralda Vriezema is a renowned Dutch athlete who was born in 1975 and is a former judoka. She was successful in the sport, achieving a number of titles and honors such as the Dutch Judo Championship in both 1995 and 1997.
She also participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics, representing her country in the judo competition. Although she did not win a medal, she still holds the distinction of being the first Dutch female to compete in judo at the Olympics.
This remarkable feat was a testament to her hard work and dedication to the sport. Daniëlle Esmeralda Vriezema is an inspirational figure in the Dutch judo community and will be remembered for her accomplishments.
26. Mark Huizinga
Mark Huizinga is a highly accomplished athlete from the Netherlands. He was born in 1973 in Vlaardingen, South Holland, and has had a remarkable career in judo.
Huizinga won gold at the 2000 Summer Olympics in the men’s under 90 kg class, besting Brazilian opponent Carlos Honorato with a decisive ippon.
He also earned bronze medals at the 1996 and 2004 Summer Olympics, further cementing his legacy as one of the greatest judokas of all time.
His accomplishments have inspired generations of athletes from his country and beyond, setting a standard of excellence that few can match.
27. Remco Pardoel
Remco Pardoel is a retired Dutch mixed martial artist. He fought in the heavyweight division in promotions such as the UFC, Shooto, and Pancrase. He had a successful career as a judoka prior to entering MMA, having won a junior national championship in 1988.
Pardoel was also a competitive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu grappler. His MMA debut came at UFC 2, where he ended up losing to Royce Gracie. Despite the defeat, Pardoel continued to fight in various promotions and established himself as a respected fighter in the heavyweight division.
He has since retired from MMA competition and now works as a trainer, helping to mentor the next generation of fighters.
28. Chris Dolman
Christiaan “Chris” Dolman is a renowned Dutch martial artist who has achieved impressive success in judo, sambo, and wrestling. He is a retired athlete who has left an indelible mark on the martial arts world.
Dolman first made his mark in judo, winning a silver medal at the European championship. This was an impressive achievement, and it made him a name to watch in Europe. He followed up this success with a gold medal at the world championship in sambo.
This was a remarkable achievement as he was the first non-Russian to ever win a world title in sambo. Throughout his career, Dolman has won a staggering number of national and international titles. He boasts more than 40 national championships and 10 international championships.
This is an incredible record of success, and it shows just how talented and committed Dolman was to the martial arts. Dolman has made a lasting impact on judo, sambo, and wrestling.
He has inspired many young martial artists with his incredible achievements, and his legacy will live on for many years to come.
29. Marit Kamps
Marit Kamps is a Dutch judoka who recently earned a bronze medal at the 2022 Judo Grand Prix Almada in the 78 kg weight category. This was an impressive accomplishment, considering the high level of competition in the sport of judo.
In addition to her success at the Grand Prix Almada, Kamps also won one of the bronze medals at the 2022 Judo Grand Slam Antalya held in Antalya, Turkey.
This medal was a testament to Kamps’ skill and determination, as she was able to fight her way to the podium despite stiff competition.
Kamps’ accomplishments are a source of pride for the Dutch judo community, and she has become an inspiration to aspiring judokas around the world.
30. Jesper Smink
Jesper Smink is a Dutch judoka who has had a successful career thus far. As of April 2021, he has won 5 medals in the IJF World Tour, and has competed in both Senior World Championships and Senior Continental Championships.
His most recent accomplishment was winning a silver medal at the 2022 European Mixed Team Judo Championships, representing the Netherlands. This is a great achievement and a testament to his hard work and dedication to the sport of judo.
It is clear that Jesper is a talented judoka, and his future looks very promising.
31. Thom Harinck
Thom Harinck is a renowned Dutch kickboxer and kickboxing trainer, famous for founding the Chakuriki Gym in Amsterdam.
His fame extends beyond the world of kickboxing, however, as he is married to Marjan Olfers, who is a former member of the board of Ajax and a professor in sports law as of May 1, 2012.
This couple is an influential presence in the sports world, both professionally and personally. Harinck has been involved with kickboxing since the late 70s, when he first started training in the sport.
He has since gone on to become a highly respected figure in the martial arts community, having achieved multiple world titles and being the first Dutchman to win the world championship in kickboxing. In addition to his kickboxing achievements, Harinck is also the founder of the Chakuriki Gym in Amsterdam.
The gym is well known for its high-level training programs and for offering a wide variety of kickboxing classes, from beginner to professional.
Harinck is also a respected coach and mentor to many of the top kickboxing athletes in the world. The presence of Marjan Olfers further strengthens the couple’s influence in the world of sports.
Olfers served on the board of Ajax, one of the biggest football clubs in the Netherlands, before becoming a professor in sports law in 2012.
Her knowledge and experience in the field of sports law is invaluable, and she is a well-respected figure in the sporting world. The combination of Thom Harinck’s kickboxing expertise and Marjan Olfers’ legal background makes them a formidable presence in the sports community.
Together, they are a powerful couple that is sure to continue to have a strong influence in the world of sports.
32. Jelle Snippe
Jelle Snippe is an accomplished judoka from the Netherlands. In 2017, he won the bronze medal in the –100 kg division at the Judo Grand Prix The Hague.
This was an impressive accomplishment, which showed his prowess in the sport. Five years later, in 2022, Snippe achieved even more success. This time, as part of the Dutch team, he won a silver medal at the European Mixed Team Judo Championships.
This victory was a testament to his skill and dedication to the sport. Snippe’s success in the world of judo has been inspiring to many. He has shown that with hard work and dedication, even the most difficult goals can be achieved.
This has been an important lesson for many and has been a source of motivation for those looking to make a name for themselves in the sport.
33. Bob Schrijber
Robert Schrijber is a world-renowned martial artist and kickboxer hailing from the Netherlands. He has retired from active competition but has since turned his attention to training the next generation of fighters.
Schrijber runs his own MMA and Muay Thai team, Sports Academy Schreiber, located in Krommenie, Netherlands. The team has seen a great deal of success, with two of its most famous students being UFC fighter Stefan Struve and professional wrestler Tom Budgen.
Both have achieved considerable success in their respective fields, with Struve having won multiple fights in the UFC and Budgen having established himself as a top-tier wrestler.
Schrijber’s expertise in martial arts has undoubtedly contributed to the success of his students, and as a result, he has earned a great deal of respect in the martial arts community.
34. Martijn de Jong
Martijn de Jong is a Dutch mixed martial artist who has been competing in the Middleweight division for many years. He is an experienced and successful fighter who has earned several titles throughout his career.
In 1995, he founded Tatsujin MMA, which is a popular and respected MMA gym. Located in the Netherlands, Tatsujin MMA has become a major training facility for fighters from all over the world.
Martijn de Jong has made a name for himself as a skilled and knowledgeable coach, helping to train and prepare fighters for competition. He has helped to produce championship-level fighters in a variety of weight classes.
Martijn de Jong’s passion for the sport of mixed martial arts has been an inspiration to many and his legacy will continue to live on through the fighters he has trained.
The Netherlands is home to some of the best judo players in the world.
With countless international titles and medals, top-level athletes such as Edith Bosch, Mark Huizinga, Elisabeth Willeboordse, and Henk Grol, have proven that judo is alive and well in the Netherlands.
Their success and dedication to the sport have been an inspiration to aspiring judokas around the world and will continue to influence generations to come.
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