James Pedro is a former collegiate wrestler and retired world champion and Olympic medalist in the sport of judo. He continues his involvement in the sport as a noted coach.
Pedro was born on October 30, 1970 in Danvers, Massachusetts where he attended St. John’s Preparatory High School prior to enrolling at Brown University. At Brown he captained the wrestling team where he was one of only nine athletes to win an Eastern championship and was a two-time All-Ivy selection. He graduated from Brown in 1994 with a 3.75 grade point average and a degree in business economics.
Under the tutelage of his father, Jim, Sr., an Olympic alternate for the 1976 Games in Montreal and whom he credits for his success, Jim, Jr. began his long and distinguished career as a judo athlete at the national and international levels. In 1992 while an undergraduate at Brown he competed in his first of four consecutive Olympics in Barcelona where, the year prior, he had won a bronze medal in the World Championships. He followed the Barcelona Games in 1996 in Atlanta where he won the bronze medal and then on to Sydney in 2000 and to Athens in 2004 where he again won the bronze medal. Between the Barcelona and Atlanta Games, he won a second bronze medal at the World Championships in 1995 at Makuhari, Japan. Prior to the ’00 games in Sydney, he won the World Championships gold medal at Birmingham in 1999.
Jim, Jr. is a six-time U.S. National Champion, a two-time gold medal winner at the Pan American Games and has won more gold medals (26) in judo competition than any other American. He retired from competition after the 2004 Olympics but continued as a premier coach in the sport. In 2012 he coached the U.S. team in the London Olympics where his prized student, Kayla Harrison won the first of her two gold medals, the first by any American in the sport. She won her second gold in 2016 at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with the senior and younger Pedros in attendance.
Pedro, who competed in the 161-pound class, is a 7th degree black belt and a member of the Black Belt Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Halls of Fame at both of his alma maters at St. John’s Prep and Brown University. He has been named Athlete of the Year by the New York Athletic Club where he is also a member of their Hall of Fame and Judo Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee. He is the most decorated U.S. judo competitor ever and is widely considered one of the greatest American judokas of all time.
Jim, Jr. was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2004 at a special ceremony for Olympic athletes. He and his wife Marie are the parents of four children. He remains fully involved in the coaching and development of aspiring judo competitors at his training facility in Wakefield, Massachusetts.
Book by Jimmy Pedro:
Pedro, Jimmy. Judo: Techniques & Tactics (Martial Arts Series). Human Kinetics, 2001.