Tommy Kono Weightlifting, Records, Family, Death, Facts

Tommy Kono Weightlifting Olympic Style . He enjoyed fame for a decade, 1950-1960. Amazingly, Kono has a world record in four different weight categories! He is a good player and one of the greatest American weightlifters of all time. The era between 1953-1959 was the golden period of his career. His unstoppable energy and ambition had won him back-to-back six world titles (straight) and two gold medals (Olympic). His three different Olympic medals enunciated his capability of lifting body weight irrespective of weight. He was a rare talent participating in both bodybuilding and weightlifting. He also successfully won the AAU Mr. Universe in 1954, 1955, and 1957. His career saga includes 27 world records! 

A Brief Intro About His Family, Friends, and Age

Birthday  June 27, 1990
Parents Ishimi and Kanichi Kono
Wife Florence Rodrigues

Though Tommy Kono’s family is of Japanese descent, he was born in Sacramento, California. His parents, Ishimi and Kanichi, were the workers of a local cannery, California Packing Company. In 1942, post the bombing at Pearl Harbor, they were forcibly relocated or interned at Tule Lake Internment camp. Soon after, the Tommy Kono family signed the executive order following their stay during World War II. 

Most of the time, he had asthma as a child. The desert air improved his asthmatic condition. The relocation introduced him to weightlifting. He also began learning martial arts. His mother was his first tailor as she stitched his first judo gi uniform! The ‘gi’ is a traditional uniform used for judo, the first contemporary judo uniform. 

He was married to a native of Honolulu, Rodriguez. He was a private person. At one point in life, they spent their life in the native location of Honolulu. A complication in his liver caused his death. He is survived by his three grandchildren, three children, and his wife. He died at the age of 85.


His neighbors were the actor Yuki Shimoda brother and a member of the Tuke Lake bodybuilding and weightlifting club, Noboru Shimoda. His friends Bob Nakanishi, Gotoh, and Toda also supported him. 


He used to be a student at Sacramento High School. After their relocation to the internet camp, the education of Tommy Kono was paused. He entirely focused on sports activities in this span of three and a half years. He learned about weightlifting and bodybuilding through an advertisement. These days his friends helped him. He completed his education at his old school after he and his family were released on December 3, 1945. Later, he worked in California’s motor vehicles department and completed his college from Sacramento Junior College. 

Physical Appearance

Weight: 148-179 lb (67-81 kg)
Height:  5 ft 6 inches (167 cm)
Hair Color:  Black

Net Worth

There is not much known about the net worth of Tommy Kono. Do you know that Kono’s estimated value is between $ 1 billion- $ 5 million? He was the best of all in the 19th generation.

Net Worth

$1 million – $5 million


Tommy Kono was unparalleled in his talent. He was also a renowned international coach. Under his coaching, many personalities won the Olympics and several other bodybuilding and weightlifting. Besides excelling at sports, he is an official of the International Weightlifting Federation, a designer, a published writer, and a photographer. 

The list of Tommy Kono books are:

  • Championship Weightlifting
  • Weightlifting Olympic Style

His first designed product was Power Hooks and TK Knee Bands. He first created it for his reasons. However, the effectiveness of the products gained popularity. 

The price list of his products is displayed in the following:

  • XL Power Hooks $49.95
  • Standard Power Hooks $39.99
  • TK Waistband – $29.95. You can avail of the Kono products from his website. 

Medal Record, Awards, and Achievements

American 37
World Records 26
Olympic 7
Pan American 8

The Tommy Kono weightlifting is a record that the world still admires. He first started with a sixty-five-pound bench pressing. Soon he won all his weaknesses to participate in the first competition in 1948, in San Jose, California, as a Sacramento High School senior. He came second in the following:

Tommy Kono
Tommy Kono award wining image
  • Clean and Jerk- 225 pound
  • Press- 175 pound
  • Snatch- 185 pound

In 1949, he returned to a new avatar and won the title of Pacific Coast Champion as a lifter award. As his first senior in the 1950 Philadelphia nationals. He shocked the ruling champion, Joe Pitman. In 1952, he was selected for the Korean War. Knowing his potential, the officials decided to keep him. 

He was sent to Fort Manson, Oakland, near San Francisco, the American center for weightlifting. The army sponsored his training. He participated in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and won a medal of 259 snatch pounds. As he moved to Hawaii, he was guided by Ricard and won the world competition. In the middleweight, he succeeded:

  • 1953
  • 1957
  • 1958
  • 1959

He is also the silver medal winner in the 1960 Olympics. He captured the world title in 1957 and 1954. The 1956 Melbourne Olympics gave him a gold medal in 986-pound lifting. Officially, he was the winner of the following:

  • 37 American
  • 26 World Records
  • 7 Olympic
  • 8 Pan American

He is the only person to win medals in three different stages of weightlifting. In bodybuilding, he equally excelled in six squats with 340 pounds.  

Tommy Kono Death

He suffered from complicated liver disease at a hospice facility. He is survived by his three grandchildren, three children, and his wife. Alas! he died at 85 in Honolulu, United States.

Tommy Kono Facts

Children 3
Grandchildren 3
Death  April 24, 2016
Death Age 85
Celebrity Fan Arnold Schkwarzenegger
Net Worth $ 1 million- $ 5 million
Books Written 
  • Championship Weightlifting
  • Weightlifting Olympic Style
World Record  Three Different stages of weightlifting 
  • He was a witness to World War II.
  • In his childhood days, he faced direct discrimination and political turmoil. Still, he was indomitable. 
  • Besides weightlifting, he was also a passionate photographer, established writer, and designer of his brands. 
  • He spent three years of his life in the internment camp after the bomb blast at Pearl Harbor.
  • He was also a well-known coach. He had also trained many famous Olympic sports personalities.
  • His mother made his first judo gi uniform.
  • In their later years, he suffered from complicated liver disease at age 85 in 2016.
  • He is survived by his wife, three grandchildren, and three children.
  • Tommy Kono Weightlifting has set a world record for conquering three different stages of weightlifting.
  • He is the author of two books Championship Weightlifting and Weightlifting Olympic Style.
  • The net worth of Tommy Kono is $ 1 million- $ 5 million.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger was a massive fan of Kono. Tommy motivated him in weightlifting. 


Tommy Kono is an invincible champion of the era. Tommy Kono records are unbeatable now. He has impressed the world with his at-par skill in weightlifting and bodybuilding. He had also trained many great Olympic winners! It is said that Arnold Schwarzenegger was his huge fan! He died at the age of 85 due to liver problems.

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Tommy Kono FAQs

What was Tommy Kono famous for?

Tommy Kono was famous for both weightlifting and bodybuilding. Since his childhood days in the internment camp, his parents and his friends encouraged him to accompany sports. His friends at the internment camp were also equally supportive of him. He first learned about bodybuilding from an advertisement.

When did Tommy Kono move to Hawaii?

Tommy Kono married a native of Hawaii, Rodriguez. After his sports career, he, his family, and his wife shifted to Hawaii. They decided to change to Hawaii, United States. They went in 1960, and he spent the rest of his life in his native town. He also died at 85 in his hometown at a hospice facility.

Why was Kono able to set so many different world records?

Kono grew interested in sports during his stay in the Internment camp. In addition to the family, Kono’s friends also encouraged him in sports. After their release from prison, he soon got back to school. His first debut was as a senior participant on behalf of the high school from which he completed his education.

Who is Tommy Kono’s wife?

The name of his wife is Florence Rodrigues. She is a native of Honolulu, Hawaii. Throughout his career, he kept his private affair away from the limelight. They are enjoying a married life of as long as 53 years. In 1960, they shifted to Honolulu. This shift marked the end of Tommy’s official career. Returning from there, he started coaching the future 

What was Tommy Kono’s cause of death?

Due to Tommy Kono’s sports regime, he had to maintain a healthy diet. When he was at the peak of his career, he once said that it is essential to drink water and eat veggies and loads of proteins. He believed in living life to the fullest. Timmy told his fans to laugh their hearts out. Unfortunately, at the age of 85, due to liver complications, he left the world for the heavenly abode.

How much can Tommy Kono bench?

During the early days, Tommy Kono could bench press sixty-five pounds. He worked extremely hard to overcome his weakness with the weights. In 1948, he participated in a San Jose, California competition and did a 175-pound press. His first competition won him the second position in the bench press round.