Kanokogi learned judo from a man on Flatbush Avenue who had picked it up in the military, but her real fight started in 1959, when she went to Utica, N.Y., for the Y.M.C.A. championships. She was Rusty Glickman, nicknamed for a local stray dog, and because women were not explicitly barred from the Y.M.C.A. championships, she figured it was worth a shot.
Used to changing in broom closets and using the bathroom at a nearby diner, she knew that she would still have to blend in. “It’s not like I walked in like a flower,” she said.
Kanokogi, with her hair cut short, competed with her breasts taped down. Her coach put her in the final bout and she won, although she said her team would have won anyway.
As she puts it, "Can I still clobber somebody if I have to? Absolutely."