Syd Hoare

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameSydney Reginald "Syd"•Hoare
Used nameSyd•Hoare
Born18 July 1939 in Paddington, Greater London, England (GBR)
Died12 September 2017
Measurements180 cm / 80 kg
NOC Great Britain


The son of a Ministry of Defence executive officer, Syd Hoare showed an interest in martial arts after discovering a book about Jujitsu when he was 14. The following year, 1954, he took up judo at the Budokwai as one of the youngest pupils under the great coach Trevor Leggett. At the age of 16, Hoare became the youngest person in the United Kingdom to obtain a Dan grade and later became the youngest British black belt. At 17 he was a member of the Great Britain team.

Hoare’s favourite technique was the osoto-gari, which he developed by practicing uchikoma in a swimming pool against the resistance of the water. He trained at the Kodokan in Japan for the three years leading up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, when he was a member of the first British Olympic judo squad. The following year he travelled with the squad to Madrid for the European Championships, where Hoare won an open weight silver medal, despite being only a middleweight. He lost to the 6ft 7in (2.01m) West German Alfred Meier.

Hoare went on to become a national coach and examiner, and between 1985-87 replaced the former British Olympic Association Chairman Charles Palmer as chairman of the British Judo Association. Hoare ran his own club, the London Judo Society, at Stockwell for 11 years, before the building was acquired by developers, and Hoare returned to the Budokwai. A fluent Japanese speaker, he obtained an honours degree in Japanese history, language, literature and religion from London University, and with his Japanese influence, founded the British Sumo Association. In 1992 he sent a British team to the first Amateur Sumo World Championships.

A man of many talents, Sydney Hoare wrote several books on judo and self-defence, including the very popular A Slow Boat to Yokohama. He also became a judo, sumo and martial arts commentator on British television. He also had minor film roles in Guy Ritchie’s comedy crime movie Snatch, the sumo wrestling movie Secret Society, and Kenneth Branagh’s As You Like It in 2006.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1964 Summer Olympics Judo GBR Syd Hoare
Middleweight, Men (Olympic) =17