HONOLULU — Tommy Kono, who took up weightlifting in an internment camp for the Japanese and went on to win two Olympic gold medals for the United States, has died.
The U.S. Olympic Committee announced that Kono died Sunday in Honolulu. His daughter, JoAnn Sumida, told the New York Times the cause was complications from liver disease. He was 85.
Kono was a frail, asthmatic 14-year-old when a neighbor first gave him a dumbbell at the Tule Lake internment center in Northern California, where he lived with his family for most of World War II.
Kono, who was born in Sacramento, California, would become one of the sport’s greatest champions, winning golds in Helsinki in 1952 and Melbourne in 1956. He also won a silver medal at the 1960 games in Rome and six straight world championships in the 1950s.