Scotsman, 72, joins judo's highest rank

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The Independent Online

Only seven living people hold judo's highest rank, the "10th Dan" black belt. As of yesterday, a 72-year-old Scotsman is one of them.

George Kerr, who runs a judo club for 200 young people in Edinburgh, was presented with the award at a Grand Slam event in Paris on Saturday in front of 14,000 people. He is one of very few non-Japanese people ever to receive the honour.

Kerr described himself as "humbled", "slightly embarrassed" and "a young 72". In a career which spanned four decades as player, coach and administrator, George Kerr established himself as one of the world's leading figures in the sport. He won a European Championship gold medal in 1957 in Rotterdam, coached the Austrian Peter Seisenbracher to two Olympic golds in the 1980s, and has refereed Olympic bouts.

Speaking from the French capital, he insisted that he has no plans to slow down as he gets older. "Don't be silly. If you give up, if you retire, you die. I will never retire. I just don't work as hard as I used to work, but retiring is not on my horizon."

Kerr added that judo remained important "because it keeps kids off the computer".

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