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Dominating the Tatami: The Remarkable Journey of Judo Champion Teddy Riner

Updated: Jun 28

In the realm of judo, one name towers above all others: Teddy "Teddy Bear” Riner. Standing at an imposing 2.04 meters (6 feet 8 inches) and weighing in at a formidable 130 kilograms (290 lbs), Riner has carved out a legacy as the most successful judoka in history. 

Judo Champion Teddy Riner

Photo credit Judo Inside

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Growing up in Les Abymes in the Caribbean, Judo Champion Teddy Riner's extraordinary journey began when he was just five years old. His parents, seeking to nurture his talents, enrolled him in a multisport club in Paris. Little did they know that this decision would set the stage for their son's remarkable rise to greatness in the world of judo.

Judo Champion Teddy Riner

Even from a young age, Riner showed a remarkable aptitude for judo, as well as a passion for football. However, faced with the challenge of balancing sports and studies, he ultimately made the difficult choice to focus all his energy on judo. Guided by his Sensei Alain Perriot at Paris Judo and later Judo Club Bolivar, Riner dedicated himself wholeheartedly to his craft, laying the groundwork for what would become an illustrious career.

Judo Champion Teddy Riner with his father
Young Teddy Riner with his father, photo credit Instagram

Riner's achievements speak volumes about his unparalleled talent and dedication. With an impressive eleven World Championships gold medals to his name, he stands alone as the only judoka, regardless of gender, to achieve such a remarkable feat. Moreover, he proudly holds three Olympic gold medals, two individual and one as part of a team, in addition to five gold medals from the European Championships. His dominance in the sport is truly awe-inspiring, with an unbeaten streak that stretches back to 2010, encompassing an incredible 154 victories. Along the way, he has triumphed in prestigious events like the World Masters in Doha and the Grand Slam in Paris, solidifying his status as a true legend of judo.

Yet, behind Riner's unparalleled success lies a humble mindset instilled in him from a young age. He recounts a formative moment in his childhood when he underestimated his older brother in a judo match, only to suffer a swift defeat. This experience taught him the importance of never underestimating any opponent, no matter how modest they may seem.

Judo Champion Teddy Riner

Throughout his journey, Riner has proudly represented multiple clubs, including Paris Judo, Judo Club Bolivar, Lagardère Paris Racing, and Levallois Sporting Club. Guided by esteemed coaches such as Alain Perriot, Dominique Paolotzi, Serge Dyot, and Christian Chaumont, Riner's evolution as a judoka has been shaped by their expertise and mentorship.

Judo Champion Teddy Riner

Despite his imposing physique, Riner's greatest asset lies in his relentless work ethic and dedication to his craft. His intense training regimen, coupled with the guidance of his coaches, has propelled him to the pinnacle of judo, setting a standard of excellence that few can rival.

Judo Champion Teddy Riner

As Teddy Riner continues to etch his name in the annals of judo history, his journey serves as a testament to the power of determination, perseverance, and unwavering passion. With each triumph on the tatami, he cements his legacy as not just a champion, but a true icon of the sport.

Judo Champion Teddy Riner
Photo credit Judo Inside and IJF

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