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Fighter Profiles > World Champions > Jean-Luc Rougé
DOB - 30 May 1949
COUNTRY - France
WEIGHT - U93kg & O95kg
Vienna, 1975, Gold
Madrid, 1973, Gold (-93kg)
Tournoi de Paris
1974 Gold (-93kg)
As technical director and then the director of the French Judo Federation over the past decade, Jean-Luc Rougé has played a key role in the growth of the sport in his homeland. He has helped France develop the largest judo population of any country outside Japan, a considerable achievement. He has brought to judo administration the same Gallic passion and commitment he gave to his competitive career, which he crowned, in 1975, by winning the World light heavyweight title, the first time ever for a Frenchman. Other French Olympic and World Champions have followed, but the fact that he opened the door makes Rougé one of the most prominent figures in French judo to this day.
Rougé’s style was always characterised by boldness. He used his height to his advantage, his long legs reaching for Osoto-gari or Ouchi-gari, which he pulled off partly through skill and partly through his deceptive strength. But he was best known for his Harai-goshi, a technique which suited his physique perfectly.
When he began judo at the age of 13, in a small town in the French countryside, he learned Harai-goshi both to the left and right, and it was symptomatic of Rougé’s extrovert nature that he attacked to both sides with abandon at all levels of competition, using a double lapel grip. His natural flair took him through the junior ranks and as he did he developed his attacking style with a constant change of grips, of angles of attack, and of defence. On one occasion he said that if an opponent attacked with the same technique, he never defended the same way twice, first he would block, second time step around and third time counter.
This unpredictability was very much part of his armoury. It was out of a flurry, in the semi-final of the -93kg category of the European Championships, in 1973, that the winning Ashi-guruma appeared, to throw Muzaev of the Soviet Union; and it was the same all attacking style that brought him the gold medal against the tough Dave Starbrook of Great Britain.
Two years later, at the World Championships in Vienna, he won two fights with Harai-goshi, throwing Ishibashi (JPN) in the final for the winning yuko with it. He won three further European titles in 1977, 1979 and 1980, this time in the Heavyweight division, before retiring.
Although he was a remarkably versatile fighter for so tall a man, he will always be remembered for a spectacular spinning Harai-goshi, which saw him literally leap into the air, spin, and surprise his opponent by landing in the perfect position to sweep the loins. ‘I knew it was a risky move, but I also knew that once I had launched it, it was quite difficult to stop.’