Mori Torao

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Mori Torao

Torao MORI was born on June 11th, 1914 in a family of great swordsmen and started practicing Kendo (Japanese fencing) with a bamboo sword in his hands when he was 5 years old.

He joined his middle school’s Kendo club. He won the team championship at the All-Japan Middle-school Kendo Championships as well as the individual title at the Meiji Shrine Sports Event. After graduating from the middle school, he rejected numerous offers from notable colleges and universities and joined the Hochi Shimbun (Newspaper).

In 1937, he moved to the United States, came across fencing, and started taking lessons. In 1938, he won the title at the Southern California Fencing Championships. Furthermore, when he competed representing Southern California at the U.S. National Fencing Championships, he came second.

It was a great shock to the U.S. Fencing world to see him almost winning the championship after training only for 6 months. Due to his strength as well as his name, he was called Tiger Mori.

In 1940, he was expected to win a medal at the 1940 Tokyo Olympics, but the Olympics were cancelled due to the start of the Second World War. Because of the war during his peak period of his competitive career, he was unable to compete at the Olympics; however, he was able to participate at the 1960 Rome Olympics as a U.S. National Team head coach. He also participated in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1968 Mexico Olympics as a U.S. National Team coach.

After retiring from an investment company, he founded a fencing school Mori Fencing Academy in Los Angeles. He made a living as the first professional fencing coach in the United States. While taking an active part in organizing the Kendo World Championships, he suffered a heart attack in the middle of practicing Kendo and died on January 8, 1969 at an early age of 54.

His daughter married Heizaburo OKAWA, who competed in three Olympics (Rome, Tokyo, and Mexico) and brilliantly achieved the 4th place in men’s team foil.