Hungarian Female Judo Fighter Represents Ghana in Rio

Fredrick Ngugi August 11, 2016
Szandra Szogedi, the female judo fighter representing Ghana at the Rio Olympics. Photo (Cocoa From Ghana)

Sending the first female judo fighter to Rio Olympics 2016 is in itself a momentous event, but the fact that the female judoka Szandra Szogedi is actually a Hungarian national has made the feat even more historic.

Even though the 27-year-old female fighter lost her first fight at the Rio Olympics to Brazilian opponent Mariana Silva Tuesday, she has still made headlines in Ghana and around the world.

Szandra was born in Budapest to Hungarian parents. She later switched her nationality, though, after marrying her Ghanaian husband, Alex Amoako, a former national judoka for Ghana.

Her Career Journey

Speaking to the BBC before her fight at the ongoing Olympics in Rio, Szandra said she started out as a gymnast in her kindergarten years.

“From the age of 10, I was already training eight times a week,” she said.

Together, with her sister, they participated in different national gymnastics championships, but allegations of abuse in their training program forced them to quit the sport.

She was later introduced to judo by her father’s friend who was a Hungarian judo Olympic silver medalist, and after two weeks of training, she was ready to participate in several local tournaments.

At the age of 12, one year in to judo, Szandra finished as the runners-up at the national judo championships, and by 2005, she had won 12 junior national titles for Hungary.

However, family problems forced her to abandon her sporting career and relocate to the U.K., where she worked as a waitress.

Seeing her Hungarian friend representing her country at the 2008 Olympic Games, though, spurred her to resume training.

Her Journey to Ghana

While still working in London, Szandra started training for judo at a local gymnasium, where she would later meet her future husband.

The couple got married and moved to Ghana, after which she decided to change her nationality.

She then enrolled with the Ghana Judo Federation and went ahead to participate in the 2011 African Championships.

The female judoka has since won more than eight international medals, including gold at the 2014 African Open.

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