Google is celebrating bodybuilding history the best way it knows how: through a Google Doodle. This particular animated tribute honors one of the greats, Tommy Kono.
The June 27 Google Doodle celebrates the 91 birthday of the Japanese-American Olympic gold medalist and world champion bodybuilder. In an Instagram post highlighting the animated tribute, Google described Kono as “one of the greatest weightlifters in U.S. history.”
“Throughout his career, he set 26 world weightlifting records and won dozens of championship titles,” the post reads.
Kono was born in 1930 in California, enduring a particularly harrowing childhood in World War II internment camps. Kono’s neighbors in the internment camp first introduced him to weightlifting, which quickly became a passion in his teen years.
In 1951, Kono joined the Army and almost fought in the Korean War, but was relieved of service due to his Olympic potential. Not only that, but the Army actually footed the bill for much of Kono’s Olympic training. And the investment in their recruit paid off. Kono was a gold medalist in the 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games, and a silver medalist in the 1960 Games. Kono also won Mr. Universe titles in 1954, 1955, 1957, and 1961. He retired from the sport in the early 1960s, however, due to a knee injury.
After his retirement, Kono coached the Mexican 1968 Olympics weightlifting team and West German 1972 Olympics weightlifting team. Kono then became head coach of the United States Olympic weightlifting team at the 1976 Olympic Games.
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“Kono has been inducted into the International Weightlifting Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, and is considered one of the top 100 Olympians of all time,” Google writes in a post outlining Kono’s accomplishments.
Kono died in 2016 at age 85 from liver disease complications. But his legacy is still in weightlifting today, with Kono introducing joint support bands and low-cut weightlifting shoes into the sport. And now, he has his own Google Doodle to add to the legacy.
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