Son pays tribute to Caldicot judo legend
12:40pm Wednesday 9th January 2013 in News
A CALDICOT judo legend has died after 50 years of dedication to the sport.
Francis (Frank) Leybourne, from Caldicot, died in his sleep on January 3, following an active and happy day playing table tennis with his family.
Mr Leybourne, who was 84, was a well-known judo practitioner, national referee and coach for the Welsh Judo Association, achieving second dan level.
He started his judo career 50 years ago, and won his black belt in London after fighting a line-up which included two 6ft 6in bodyguards to King Hussein of Jordan.
He studied under Kenshiro Abbey Sensei and Matsutaro Otani Sensei and ran successful judo clubs in Newport and Caldicot, developing several Welsh champions and changing the lives of many people, some of whom turned their lives around to become judo coaches themselves.
He taught Bob Edmunds, Mike McGuire, Jack Pugh, Terry Pugh and Nigel Simmons, who all went on to become high-level judo coaches.
He also taught his wife, Glennys, daughters Hilary and Francesca and his son Julian – with three becoming black belts and regularly winning gold medals at Welsh Judo Champion events.
Even in his eighties he played golf, weight-trained, skied, swam, played squash, table tennis, snooker and rode his mountain bike.
He was also a gifted poet and artist, and loved to play and listen to the guitar.
Julian Leybourne said: “My father was an inspiration to people in judo and who positively influenced everyone around him, including family, friends and acquaintances.
In all the years I have never heard him say a bad word about anyone and he saw only the good in people.”
The funeral service will be on January 17 at St Mary’s Church, Caldicot, at 1pm, followed by a short service at the Forest of Dean crematorium.