August 27, 2013 – Masters judoka Bo Svenson, a yondan who portrayed the unconventional lawman and household legend of the 1970s, Sheriff Buford Pusser, in the motion pictures Walking Tall Part 2 and Walking Tall, Final Chapter, and the television series Walking Tall on NBC, has been named chairman of USA Judo’s Masters Committee and manager of the 2013 USA Judo Masters World Championship Team.
In a letter to fellow masters, Svenson said that he embraced the appointments “not only as an honor but a responsibility,” and that he viewed the masters community in the United States as a critical resource for building the popularity of the sport on home turf.
“We can be pivotal in giving our sport a higher profile. Many of us already are working hard to this end,” he said. Read the letter HERE.
Svenson earned his shodan (first-degree black belt) at the famed and notoriously tough Kodokan in Japan, home dojo of the sport, in 1961 while stationed there as a U.S. Marine. He earned his nidan and sandan (third degree) in ’62 and ’63. He was forced from the mats by injuries in 1965.
In 2009, “I found my old gi, which promptly fell apart when I put it on,” Svenson said in an interview shortly before competing in November at USA Judo’s Grand Masters World Championship in Miami, where he was among more than 800 fighters 30 and older. “I bought a new gi, found a dojo that let me train - and promptly fell apart,” breaking ribs and toes, tearing hamstrings and dislocating a knee cap. But there was no stopping. “I can’t stay away from judo,” said Svenson, 72.
It would be hard to say who’s tougher, Svenson or his famous character, the outrageous Pusser, who wielded impromptu justice on bootleggers and other hoodlums with an oak bat in rural Tennessee. But this was just one of many, varied rolls that spanned more than 60 films, including the 1976 motion picture, “Breaking Point,” aid hundreds of hours of network television. Svenson also directed numerous motion pictures, mostly in the action-adventure genre. His television directing includes “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,” for Warner Bros.
He most recently starred in the Sydney J. Furie directed motion picture “Pride of Lions,” that filmed in Ontario, Canada, and Afghanistan with Lou Gossett Jr., Seymour Cassel, Margot Kidder, and Tom Jackson.