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Judo Olympian to play her idol in biopic

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Takes one to know one. Boston’s Kayla Harrison, who in 2012 won the first Olympic gold medal in judo by an American, will play judo legend Rusty Kanokogi in the biopic “Don’t Call Me Sir!” The film’s being produced by Bo Svenson, a Swedish-born actor who’s heavily into martial arts and has the rights to Kanokogi’s rather remarkable life story. In 1959, Rusty, who was then a single mother (and named Rusty Glickman), disguised herself as a man to compete in the New York State YMCA Judo Championships. She beat the reigning champ, but was forced to return the medal when it was discovered she was a woman. She went on to train in Japan, marry judo great Ryohei Kanokogi, and help get women’s judo approved as an Olympic event in 1988. “I am thrilled and extremely honored to be playing Rusty,” Harrison said in a statement. “She was instrumental in helping make my personal dreams as well as the dreams of countless young women around the world come true.” Harrison continues to train with USA Judo coach Jimmy Pedro at Pedro’s Judo Center in Wakefield.

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