Ben Nighthorse Campbell's Olympic dream was cut short when he reinjured his knee in his second judo bout at the 1964
Tokyo Summer Games.
It was unbelievably hard," said Campbell, 76, a former U.S. representative and senator who lives in Ignacio. I had
done my share of winning, but after 15 years of training five hours a day, day after day, year after year, 15 years
where life was eat, sleep, train, it was hard."
He first was exposed to the martial art when he was working as a fruit picker in California's Sacramento Valley. He
continued his judo studies while stationed in Korea during the Korean War.
By the time he competed in the Olympics, Campbell already had been the three-time U.S. judo champion and won the gold
medal in the sport at the Pan-American Games in 1963.
When we learned after the 1960 Rome games that judo would be an Olympic sport," Campbell said, I sold everything I
owned, my life insurance, everything, to go to train in Japan to prepare. I taught English to support myself."
Campbell said the best things about his Olympic experience included being on the first American team ever to compete
in judo at the Olympics and all the lifelong friends he made there, including many who competed in other sports.
It was an unforgettable experience in spite of how the competition ended for him.
When you walk into that stadium behind the American flag, you know all that sacrifice and training was worth it," he
Campbell went on to become an award-winning jewelry designer. He retired in 2004 from a political career that
included three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and two terms in the U.S. Senate.
I really believe the skills you learn in sports training are transferable," Campbell said. Dedication to purpose, sacrifice, the ability to withstand pain, all kinds of pain, physical, mental, emotional. That's why I have always
supported sports and after-school activities for kids."