Tommy Kono Weightlifting, Records, Family, Death, Facts

Tommy Kono Weightlifting has been a milestone for many American athletes. His contribution to the Olympics is beyond words. He had records in four different weight categories. In addition to the Olympics, he had 27 other world records in weightlifting. 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 6 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

A Brief Intro About His Family, Friends, and Age

Birth Name Tommy Kono
Age 85 Years
Date of Birth June 27, 1930
Place of Birth Sacramento, CA
Date of Death April 24, 2016
Place of Death Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Weightlifter
Net Worth $1 million – $5 million
Father Ishimi Kono
Mother Kanichi
Spouse Florence Rodriguez
Children Daughter JoAnn, sons Jamieson and Mark

Olympic Weightlifter Tommy Kono

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 married Florence Rodrigues, a native of Honolulu. He never publicized his private or married life. At one point in life, they spent their life in the native location of Honolulu. A complication in his liver caused his death. He died at the age of 85. After Kono’s demise, his family comprises his wife, 3 children, and grandchildren.

Tommy Kono Olympic weight lifting picture
Tommy Kono Olympic weightlifting picture

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Tommy Kono Friends 

All the achievements of Tommy Kono from childhood to his coaching phase are carefully preserved in the Stark Centre. The primary architect behind this is Dr. Pete George, a fellow Hawaiian and long-time friend of Kono.

Lou DeMarco, the athlete-cum-friend of Tommy Kono, narrated all their precious ‘we time’ in the Book of Remembrance for Tommy Kono. Here, the narrator describes Kono’s humane traits. He also mentioned the other memories they built while spending time at various events. 


He was a student at Sacramento High School. Tommy and his family shifted to the internment camp, so he stopped attending school. He was engrossed in sports and other similar activities for 3.6 years.

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He came to know about weightlifting and bodybuilding through an advertisement. His friends were one of his biggest supporters! On December 3, 1945, after their release from the internment camp,

Tommy resumed his education at the old school. As a college aspirant, he used to work in the motor vehicles department of California. He pursued his graduation from Sacramento Junior College.

Tommy Kono Age And Height

Height 167 cm (5 ft 6 in)
Weight 81 kg
Age 85 Years
Hair Color Black

Tommy Kono’s 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.

Years 2016
Net Worth $1 million – $5 million


He also designed a couple of his signature products. His first designed products were Power Hooks. Secondly, he designed knee bands and named the product TK Knee Bands. He first created it for his reasons. However, the effectiveness of the products gained popularity. 

Mr. Tommy is also the author of a pair of books. The list of Tommy Kono books are:

Championship Weightlifting

Weightlifting Olympic Style

Note: The price list of his products is displayed as 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

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 award-winning photo
Tommy Kono award-winning photo
  • Clean and Jerk225 pound
  • Press175 pound
  • Snatch185 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 in 1953, 1957, 1958, and 1959. He captured the world title in 1957 and 1954. He is also the silver medal winner in the 1960 Olympics. The 1956 Melbourne Olympics gave him a gold medal in 1986-pound lifting. Officially, he was the winner of the following:

American     37
World Records     26
Olympic     7
Pan American    8

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 Medal Record, Awards, and Achievements
Tommy Kono Medal Record, Awards, and Achievements

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Tommy Kono Death

Tommy breathed his last on April 24, 2016, in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. According to the NY Times, he had been suffering from liver complications in his old days. Kono’s daughter Joann Sumida stated in an interview that the cause of his death was hepatic encephalopathy (a condition triggered due to cirrhosis of the liver). The survivors of Kono include his wife, Florence Rodrigues.3 children, and 3 grandchildren.

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Olympic Career

Olympics Events  Sports Result 
Helsinki 1952 Lightweight (≤ 67½ kilograms) Weightlifting  Gold
Melbourne 1956 Light-heavyweight(≤ 82½ kilograms) Weightlifting  Gold
Rome 1960 Middleweight (≤75 kilograms) Weightlifting  Silver


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 3 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.
  • Their net worth of he is $ 1 million- $ 5 million.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger was a massive fan of Kono. Tommy motivated him in weightlifting. 

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He is an invincible champion of the era. Tommy Kono’s 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.

Reference link:-

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.

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.

Is Tommy Kono dead?

Yes, Tommy Kono is dead! Tommy Kono died in Honolulu, Hawaii, on April 24, 2016. The family shifted there shortly after his marriage. At the time of death, he was 85 years old. Tommy was suffering from liver complications and succumbed to them. His wife, children, and grandchildren survived him.

Is Tommy Kono still alive?

Tommy Kono is no more! He died on April 24, 2016, at the age of eighty-five in a Honolulu residence. On the verge of his death, he was suffering from severe liver complications. He had a golden career in the domain of sports and bodybuilding. Kono also coached several renowned American athletes.

Where was Tommy Kono born?

Though he belonged to a Japanese family, Kono was born in California on June 27, 1930. During World War II, he and his family were sent to the camp’s origin. In his childhood days, he had asthma. When he was in the camp, Kono was introduced to sports, including weightlifting.

Who is Tommy Kono?

Tommy Kono was an American weightlifter. He is a legendary personality. Kono set several national, international, and Olympic records in his sports career. In addition, he also trained many award-winning athletes. Later, he wrote two biography series on the experiences of his weightlifting world.

How old is Tommy Kono?

Tommy Kono was 85 years old when he died. His career was at its peak in his thirties (1960s). He was also an award-winning bodybuilder. He retired in the mid-sixties from international sports. After that, Tommy made his debut as a coach in the 1968 Mexican Summer Olympics.

How much did Tommy Kono lift?

Tommy Kono was an American weightlifter of Japanese descent. He had a world record in four different categories of weightlifting: lightweight (149 pounds), middle heavyweight (198 lb), middleweight (165 lb), and light heavyweight (182 lb). He was also a gold medal winner in the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympics.

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