It was always part of Keith Alan Raniere’s bio that he was the East Coast Judo Champion when he was 11. Sometimes he called it the Eastern Coast Judo Champion and sometimes he got a little confused and said he was 12.
But the point is that just like he claimed:
- He spoke in full sentences by the age of one
- Was reading by the age of two
- At age 12, he taught himself high school mathematics in less than a day
- Taught himself three years of college mathematics by age 13.
- He played many musical instruments
- Taught himself to play piano at a concert level by age 12
He also always claimed
- At the age of eleven, he was an Eastern Coast Judo Champion.
HIs bio gives no other details. It does not say who he defeated to win the championship; no date, no venue, no qualifiers such as weight division, belt designation, how many rounds he fought – as is customary when martial artists list championships on their bios.
One might assume that, since the ‘world’s smartest man,’ and a teacher of ethics, saw fit to mention it in his bio, his judo victory was significant and a verifiable accomplishment.
Unfortunately, no newspaper thought it worth reporting.
Raniere was 11 in 1971. Searching 1971 and going every year for a decade on either side of 1971, there is not a single news report of Raniere winning any judo championship in any of 5,100 newspapers archived by http://www.newspapers.com – including Raniere’s hometown newspaper – The White Plains Journal News – which might have thought it newsworthy that an 11 year old hometown boy defeated the assembled judo masters to win the Championship of the entire East Coast.
Online evidence shows Raniere may have competed in the East Coast Judo Tournament held in Newark, NJ.
The amateur tournament – which has been held every year since late 1960’s – is not ranked as an E level event and therefore does not attract top martial artists. Nor does the tournament publish records.
That may be because the tournament is for children. It affords students from local Dojos [Judo schools] in New York and New Jersey to have a ‘recital’ where children – starting at age four – compete with kids in other schools in front of their parents.
Raniere may have appeared at the East Coast Judo Tournament and competed with other boys in the yellow or green belt division. He may have won a ribbon.
For a child to get a ribbon, and, as an adult, claim he was East Coast Judo Champion is like the little girl in Miss Agatha’s Dance School who won the Shirley Temple pink ribbon for tap dancing saying she was dancing champion of the entire East Coast.
Now here comes evidence that our Vanguard may have been lying even about winning the children’s competition. Bradley Hammel writes to the Frank Report.
By Bradley Hammel
I have been watching The Vow and HBO and this whole thing is surreal.
I remember Keith Raniere’s name because I beat him in my first judo tournament at age 10 or 11 (1970 or 71). The tournament was a local tournament with four dojos.
I was a member of the Closter Village Judo Club (Closter, NJ). The tournament was at the Westwood Judo Club in Westwood, NJ. It was on the second floor of a building that was above a Ford dealership.
There were one or two other dojos at the tournament.
Mr. Raniere came from another dojo (I do not remember which one). There were usually two divisions for an age group at that time, lightweight and heavyweight. We were in the heavyweight group.
In the end, we competed in a semifinals match. We fought to a tie and went to overtime. I remember that I had thought I had lost but the judges and referee awarded me the victory.
So Keith Raniere was not a judo champion or even expert. At the time of the tournament, we were both yellow or orange belts (white, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, black is the ordering of belts).
I continued on and off with judo into my early twenties and reached the rank of brown belt. I do not remember seeing Mr. Raniere at subsequent tournaments. I do not know if he progressed past orange belt but he was hardly an expert or champion.
Thanks Bradley for giving us the plain unvarnished truth, but frankly another of our illusions have been shattered about our Vanguard. Next we’ll learn he is not really the smartest man in the world.