Life history of Tommy Kono and his career

Life history of Tommy Kono and his career

Tommy Kono was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on June 27, 1930. He was a world champion weightlifter and Mr. Universe titleholder in the 1950s. He is considered one of the greatest weightlifters of all time. Tommy Kono began weightlifting in high school and won his first championship in 1949. He went on to win numerous titles, including Mr. America, Mr. World, and Mr. Universe.

Tommy Kono’s life story

Tommy Kono was born in Sacramento, California, on November 18, 1930. He began weightlifting at 14, and by the time he was 19, he had won his first national championship. He competed in the 1952 Summer Olympics, winning a gold medal in the featherweight division.

Kono went on to have an illustrious career, winning two more Olympic gold medals (in 1956 and 1960) and setting several world records. He retired from competition in 1966 but remained active in the weightlifting community, serving as the head coach of the United States weightlifting team at the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Life history of Tommy Kono and his career

His career as a weightlifter

Tommy Kono was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1930. His family was of Japanese descent, and Kono’s father was a former professional wrestler. Kono began weightlifting at 15, and within a year, he had won the Hawaiian state championship. In 1950, he moved to San Francisco to attend college and compete in weightlifting for the City College of San Francisco.

Kono quickly became one of the top American weightlifters, and in 1953, he won the AAU National Weightlifting Championship. He competed in his first World Weightlifting Championship in 1954 and placed fourth. The following year, he won gold medals at the World Weightlifting Championship and the Pan American Games. He successfully defended his World Championship title in 1956 and 1957.

Kono retired from competition after winning his third World Championship title in 1959 but remained active as a coach and administrator. In 1961, he helped found the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), now the governing body for Olympic weightlifting. Kono served as IWF President from 1970-1974. He was inducted into the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame in 1979 and the IWF Hall in 1999.

His contributions to the sport of weightlifting

Tommy Kono is one of the most accomplished weightlifters in history. He is a two-time Olympic Champion, eight-time World Champion, and five-time Pan American Games Champion. Kono also set 25 world records during his career.

Kono was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1930. He began training in weightlifting when he was just 13 years old. Kono quickly began to excel in the sport, winning his first major title at the 1950 British Empire Games.

Kono had an incredible career, winning multiple titles and setting multiple world records. He remains one of the most decorated weightlifters in history, and his contributions to the sport are immeasurable.
Life history of Tommy Kono and his career

His later years

In his later years, Tommy Kono continued to work as a coach and administrator. He also wrote an autobiography, “The Tom Kono Story: From Hawaii to the Gold.” In retirement, Kono lived in Honolulu with his wife, Mary. He died on April 24, 2016, at the age of 85.


From his days as a young boy in Hawaii to his record-setting weightlifting career and becoming one of the most influential sports coaches, Tommy Kono has had an amazing life. His story is about dedication, hard work, and never giving up on your dreams. We hope that Tommy’s story will inspire you to chase after your own goals and never give up on yourself. Thank you for reading!


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