Skip to content





Everything You Need to Know About the Late American Weightlifter Tommy Kono


Everything You Need to Know About the Late American Weightlifter Tommy Kono
Table Of Contents

Are you an aspiring weightlifter looking for inspiration to achieve your goals? Look no further than Tommy Kono, weightlifting hero - the late American super weightlifter who was regarded as one of the greatest athletes in Olympic history.

Not only did he push boundaries in his sport, but he also set numerous world records and earned multiple medals on the international level. His impressive strength and mental discipline have been an absolute inspiration to many all around the world.

Born in 1930, Tommy pioneered weightlifting throughout his career, which spanned over seven decades. In this blog post, we'll look at Tommy Kono's remarkable life story and discover what made him such a legendary sportsman.

Who Was Tommy Kono?

When it comes to pound-for-pound strength, Tommy Kono is arguably the greatest United States weightlifter of all time. During six years between 1953 and 1959, Kono never knew defeat in any world or Olympic competitions, snagging two Olympic gold medals and six world titles in the process. His best lifts included a 214 kg snatch and a 253 kg clean and jerk, making him one of the strongest weightlifters ever.

In addition to his Olympic and World Championship achievements, Kono was also the victor at three consecutive Pan American Games. As if those accolades weren't enough for one man, he is actually the only person who holds world records in four different bodyweight classes - an impressive feat by any standards.

Furthermore, with 11 AAU championships in three distinct bodyweight categories and 27 total world records to his name during his accomplished career, it's no wonder why people often laud him as one of America's elite weightlifters.

To top it off, Kono was also a champion bodybuilder with wins in the 1954, 1955, and 1957 AAU Mr. Universe title competitions. One thing's certain: Tommy Kono certainly made United States weightlifting history!

If you are unfamiliar with Olympic star Kono and his accomplishments, here is everything you need to know.

A Part of Kono's Childhood Was Spent in a Japanese Internment Camp in California

Tommy Kono rose to fame as an Olympic weightlifting superstar. After his parents were sent to Japanese internment camps during World War ll, he found solace and a way of expressing himself through the sport.

He quickly rose to stardom, setting world records in weightlifting that stood for decades. Kono won two gold medals, one silver, and two bronze medals in three consecutive Olympic Games.

Today, Tomiyasu 'Tommy' Kono stands tall as one of the most successful Olympians ever. His prowess in powerlifting has been honored with multiple sports awards and heralded by fans across the globe as an inspiring story of determination and excellence in sportsmanship.

Kono Was a Multiple Olympic Medalist

Kono was a Multiple Olympic Medalist

Tommy Kono truly put the sport of weightlifting on the map after earning medals at multiple Olympic Games. He accomplished a total of six world records and two Olympic gold medals in 1952 and 1956, respectively.

That's not all; he also won silver medals in 1960 and 1964, as well as a bronze medal in 1972. Kono was able to accomplish something that many lifters before him could only dream of doing by using his famous Tommy Kono max lifts.

With these vigorous workouts, Kono was heavily praised for his incredible success on the world stage and will forever be remembered for his impeccable work ethic and tremendous feats in weightlifting at the Olympics.

Kono Was More Than Just a Weightlifter

Tommy Kono was more than just your average weightlifter. In addition to setting multiple world records and winning two Olympic medals, he also went on to become a competitive bodybuilder.

His success in this field led him to win the Mr. Universe titles for four consecutive years from 1954-1961. On top of all that, he also authored several books about his passion for weightlifting, sharing invaluable knowledge and tips gathered from a lifetime of dedication to max lifts and legendary athletic performances.

Athletes around the world will always remember Kono as an inspirational figure who truly embodied excellence in both competition and life.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Aspired to Compete in Bodybuilding Because of Kono

At only five foot two and weighing just 121 pounds, you would never think the legendary bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger was inspired by someone like Tommy Kono.

But sure enough, Kono had a major impact on Schwarzenegger's life even before they ever met. In 1968, fifteen-year-old Schwarzenegger saw a photo of Kono in a magazine and immediately aspired to be as great of a bodybuilder as he was.

He had set his sights high since Tommy was an Olympic gold medalist for weightlifting twice and held thirty-two world records for max lifts. After seeing the photo, Schwarzenegger was dedicated to reaching his goal and became the iconic bodybuilder he is today.

Tommy Kono's Career

Tommy Kono's incredible career began with his childhood devotion to weightlifting in Tule Lake, California. Throughout his competitive weightlifting career, he gained international fame by setting multiple Olympic records and winning numerous awards.

A true legend, Kono has remained immensely dedicated to the weightlifting community after retiring. After becoming renowned for his championship-winning techniques, Kono's impact was felt once more when he took on a coaching role for various teams competing in the Olympics.

He firmly believed that when it comes to sports, weightlifting is most closely related to Zen - a form of Buddhism that emphasizes meditation and spirituality instead of religious doctrines.

With a history of success, Tommy Kono's dedication to weightlifting will inspire athletes for many years. Kono never gave up on himself, and his hard work allowed him to make the most out of what was available to him without giving up on living his dreams.

Tommy Kono's Family

Growing up in Sacramento, Tommy Kono appeared to be no different than any other child, but tragically, his family was forced into the Tule Lake internment camp during World War II. Despite his asthma, he used the desert air as a natural remedy while still finding time to play sports.

A recent Tommy Kono documentary shows how his family was able to cope with such adversity and rise above it - a true testament to incredible strength and resilience.

Tommy Kono Wife

Tommy Kono was a man blessed with an amazing family. He married the love of his life, Florence, in 1962 and remained by her side until his passing. Together they had three children - Joann, Jamieson, and Mark - as well as three adoring grandchildren. Florence remained loyal to him until the end and still stands proudly as his widow after all these years.

The End of His Life

Everyone in the weightlifting industry mourned the passing of Tommy Kono on April 24th, 2016. The 85-year-old was renowned worldwide as one of the greatest weightlifters of all time and a giant in Olympic history, making him a true icon and an inspiration for many.

After passing away at his beloved home in Honolulu, Hawaii, he is survived as Tommy Kono's wife, Florence Rodrigues Kono, three children, and three grandchildren who will proudly uphold his legacy.


In conclusion, Tommy Kono is one of the greatest Olympic-style weightlifters of all time. He set multiple world records throughout his career and was an 11-time World Weightlifting Champion. He won a total of two gold medals, five silver medals, and two bronze medals in Olympic competitions. Kono wrote a book about his life story which was published in 1962, and he was married to his wife, Florence, until his death in 2016. Tommy Kono will continue to be remembered as one of the greatest weightlifters in history for many years to come.

Healthier and Happier Life is One Step Away.

Get information on health, fitness and wellness with our weekly newsletter.

Write a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Comment are moderated
  • Diet or Exercise: Which is Best for Long-Term Health & Weight Loss?
  • Hot Summer, Hotter You? Top Tips for Staying Active in the Sizzling Heat!
  • 8 Best Natural Ingredients for Weight Loss That Works

    Are you tired of fad diets and searching for a natural way to shed extra pounds? Look no further! Several powerful...

  • Is Fruit a Good Pre-Workout Snack? - Explained

    When it comes to exercise, people often focus on the workout itself and forget about the importance of pre-workout...

  • Beef Up Your Bench Press - 10x3 Workout Program
  • How to Strengthen Your Shoulders and Get the Muscles You Want

    One of the primary goals for a gym enthusiast is getting broader shoulders. It doesn't only enhance the overall ap...

  • BMI Vs. Body Fat Percentage — Which Number is More Important?
  • Greek Yogurt — 8 Reasons Why Greek Yogurt is the Best Food to Lose Weight Fast

    Did you know that Greek yogurt can help you lose weight faster? That's right! Eating Greek yogurt daily can be a g...

  • Evidence-Based Approaches to Preventing and Treating Muscle Soreness

    Muscle soreness is a natural consequence of intense or unfamiliar exercise. Referred to as delayed onset muscle so...

  • Quality Sleep is Key to Successful Weight Loss and Lifestyle Modifications, Study Finds

    People who reported getting regular, uninterrupted sleep did a better job sticking to their exercise and diet plan...

  • Start your fitness journey today!

    Take an extra 10% off your order.

    reach out

    Toll Free: (833) 366-6733

    5700 Crooks Road, Troy, Michigan 48098

    *By submitting this form you are signing up to receive our emails and can unsubscribe at any time.

    Related Products to This Article