MJF Profile‎ > ‎

MJF History

Judo in the beginning

Judo was comparatively unknown in Malta until the 1950’s and then the little Judo that was practised was more a discipline than a sport.  In fact, it was practised by the services alongside with Karate and jujitsu.
The small group of servicemen that practised this sport often allowed civilians to join them in  training.
One such serviceman, Mr. Ernest Gainy, allowed Joe Caruana to join one of these classes in 1970. As Black Belt 1st Dan, Joe Caruana called the first informal Judo Committee at the Zabbar Physical Culture Club.  Two students of Joe Caruana, Tony Tanti and Envic Galea opened three other Judo Clubs in 1971:

  1. Zebbug Judo Club                                   (Tony Tanti)
  2. Royal University Judo Club                      (Envic Galea)
  3. MCAST Polytechnic Judo Club                (Envic Galea)

The formation

It was at that time that a STEERING COMMITTEE of the M.J.A., was formed with the following founder Members :-
President.......................................................Tony Caruana
Vice President .............................................. Joe Gravina
Secretary ......................................................Envic Galea
Treasurer.......................................................Joe Farrugia
National Coach............................................. Joe Caruana
Members....................Edgar Gili - Tony Tanti - Alfred Cremona.


In the beginning, the activities were regular classes of Judo and demonstrations to propagate the new sport in August of that year (1971)The General Secretary Envic Galea appeared before the Directing Committee of the European Judo Union, in Rome to apply for affiliation  with the EJU and the IJF.

On Friday 26th May 1972 the Malta Judo Association, was officially launched with the above members on the Council. That same year the MJA was also recognised as a full member of the European Judo Union and the International Judo Federation.

The first National Championships and the first steps

In 1973 the first National Championships were organised at the Malta Hilton, which had become and was to remain the official Headquarters of the Association.  The winner of the Open Category was declared National Champion. Tony Tanti and the Zebbug Judo Club won these Championships.  From then on the Nationals were organised every year.
The progress of Judo in Malta was mainly due to the assistance of the British Forces, especially the 41 Commando Group who, were to become very important in the MJA development. They assisted technically, and helped with competition officials and equipment.  However the biggest help, which moulded the character of Maltese Judo, came from the Italian Judo Federation.  This started with the intervention of Dott. Maurizio Genolini, who happened to be also Vice President of the E.J.U. and Avv. Cerachini, President of the Italian Federation.
Italian assistance became a reality when two of our Judokas were accepted for a four month course at the Italian Judo Academy, which until 1984 has been the only testing body for the MJA for grading to 1st Dan (Black Belt).  The assistance from the Italian Judo Federation was openly given every time the M.J.A. requested it.
After several friendlies with Italian, English and other foreign teams (national and regional), the M.J.A. started competing internationally in the Mediterranean Games in Split in 1979, here the MJA registered the highest achievement when Godfrey Bezzina finished 4th. This result remained the highest result in these Games until 1995, when Malta won a Bronze Medal in Shooting.

Maltese Judo asserts itself

After these games the Maltese Judokas represented Malta at all these Games.  In 1984, Laurie Pace placed seventh in the World Championships.
Judo did not only participate in the sporting field, Judo was very active in the Sports Politics, particularly within the Malta Olympic Committee.
Since 1975, the Judo Association insisted that sports in Malta would only develop if all Associations united.  The Principle was that “administrators were few” and if they were to join forces, it would help sport in general to develop in quality and to develop professionally”.
In 1980 Envic Galea Council Member representing Judo on the Olympic Committee, proposed that the Malta Olympic Committee would seek a Centralised Place for all her member Federations together within the office of the M.O.C.  He also proposed that if the Small Countries were to move forward from the 3rd class position they retained in the world of sport they should organise the “Mini Olympics” This idea took a long time to take off. However in 1985, through the constant work of the General Secretary of the MOC, Mr. Bertie Muscat the first “Games of the Small States of Europe” were held in San Marino. These Games, under IOC patronage were to be organised every two years and to grow in status.
Judo was to be the only Sport in these games to hold the record for all eight GSSE countries to have participated in all editions. This was a fair reward for having been the originators of the idea. Only four men weight categories were fielded in 1985 but in Malta (1993) the Women categories were introduced for the first time and in 1997 (Iceland) all seven weight categories for men and women have been introduced.

MJA Launches a Professional Youth Programme

Judo had always attracted children and most Judokas join at a very young age. Judo was also particularly popular in schools and youth centres however Instructors taught the sport in the same manner as adults introducing games to keep the young Judokas interested and improve their skills. After studying the subject in detail, in 1991, the MJA launched the Star Award Scheme, “Playing Judo” later to develop under the passionate leadership of Chris Busuttil (Youth Development Officer MJA) into the very popular Dragon Espoir. Therefore Judo became one of the few sports in Malta to have a fully developed programme for children

Members in the Executive of the international

Committee

During the Congress of the European Judo Union held in Athens in 1991, Envic Galea was elected on the directing committee of the European Judo Union, as Assistant General Secretary and was given the responsibility to help develop Judo in the Small Nations and editor the European Judo News Letter, besides his normal secretarial duties.
The MJA is still active in the MOC, with members in the Executive committee. Envic Galea was elected as a member of the Executive board in 1985 and became Youth Director in 1992 he was re elected as Youth Director for the 2001- 2004 period. Judo has taken part successfully in all MOC activities.
Judo has always been selected by the MOC to represent Malta in her token contingent IN THE Olympic Games since the Seoul Games

1995 Successful year for MJA at Games of the

Small States of Europe.

After the success of Judo in the Malta Games in 1993, where the Judokas won one Gold, one Silver and four bronzes, the Malta Olympic Committee, embarked on a professional training programme in conjunction with some federations. One of these Federations was the MJA. The MJA committed itself completely to this scheme with excellent results. This scheme involved the hiring of a professional Russian Coach and submitting the athletes to periodical tests at the Olympic Sports Clinic.
In 1995 the MOC accepted to send seven Judokas to the sixth edition of the Games of the Small States of Europe and out of the Maltese Contingent of 150 athletes Judo was the winner of six medals out of the twelve won by the Maltese Contingent, with the only Gold for Malta won by Jackie Xuereb in the 52 Kg Category. Six athletes out of seven won a medal!
Jackie Xuereb was awarded the Sports Women of the Year for this second exploit
In 1997, the MJA listed 8 athletes for the Iceland Games.  In Iceland, the MJA made a record for Malta when the National Anthem was played 3 times in a day when John Zammit, Jackie Xuereb and Kamilla Peter won Gold medals while Laurie Pace, Jason Trevisan and Philip Camilleri won Silver and Silvano Cristauro and the young Alexia Mallia won Bronze.  This placed Malta first in the Judo events.  The President of the republic of Malta Dr. Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, to write a poem to honour the sport of Judo.



Fil-gholi l-vjola l-fjur tal-gakaranda
U mal-hitan u fuq il-kannizzati
Jirgha l-ahmar sabih tal-buganvilla.

Flora strangiera, izda saret taghna
Bil-kura, ghaqal, sens u dixxiplina
Tal-gennien Malti.

Min hu dak li jrid ifaqqar
Il-gonna interni
Billi jsaffi minnhom kull ma hu barrani?

Il-Judo twieled u trabba f'art imbieghda
Izda intom ghamiltuh taghkom
Bil-kura, bl-ghaqal, sens u dixxiplina.
Ghamiltuh taghna glorja ta' pajjizna
U l-isport tieghu.

Kburin bikom illum sportivi mhazzma
B'terhet ir-razn u l-pjacir tar-rebha


In 1995 the MJA hosted the 48th Annual Congress of the European Judo Union. Envic Galea Contested the Post of Sports Director and was elected with 25 Nations out of 33 voting in favour.
In 1998 he contested the post of Vice President of the EJU and was elected by acclamation.

Inclusion of Jujitsu, Kendo and Yoshinkan Aikido within the Federation

In order to meet the needs of the growth of the Sport of Judo, the Federation decided to include three other disciplines very close to Judo in spirit; these were Jujitsu, Kendo, and Yoshinkan Aikido. The Federation’s name was changed to Malta Judo Federation and associated disciplines.
These successes prompted the Ministry responsible for sports Hon Dr Michael Refalo, to support the MJA and voted a sum of money in favour of the building of a Judo International Centre in Pembroke.
A piece of land covering 7,000 square meters was allocated in 1999 and the Federation is now in the process of raising funds to make the dream of having its own head quarters come true

The Malta Judo Federation & the European Judo Union

During the 2004 European Judo Union Annual Congress held in Budapest, Hungary, Mr Envic Galea, (President of the Malta Judo Federation) was elected as General Secretary of the European Judo Union, thus also bringing the office of the Secretariat of the European Judo Union to Malta.
Mr Galea, together with the Administrative Secretaries, Louisa Galea and Alexis Milne, amongst other duties, are responsible for the communication with the Member National Federations and with third parties, within the EJU, and also organises Congresses and DC meetings. responsible for the communication with the Member National Federations and with third parties, within the EJU, and also organises Congresses and DC meetings.