Born on August 27th, 1941 in New Westminster, British Columbia, Lawrence Mitani would move with his family to Dryden, Ontario at an early age. He exhibited great talents in hockey and football, but it is with the sport of Judo that Lawrence would truly make his mark.
A star quarterback in high school with the Dryden Eagles, Lawrence served as team captain for his final two years with the team, being named Most Valuable Player in 1957. Also active in hockey, he played with the Dryden Rockets in the now defunct Ontario-Minnesota Senior 'A' Hockey League from 1958-60, and attended the Detroit Red Wings professional training camp in 1958 at the age of 17 years. He retired from hockey in 1960 to devote his full-time efforts to judo competition.
A fourth degree Kodokan black belt by 1974, he won the Mid-Canada Open Black Belt Judo Championship in 1967, the Saskatchewan Open Black Belt Judo Championship in 1966 and the Mid-Western Canadian Black Belt Judo Championship in 1966. He five times qualified as a member of the provincial judo team which represented Ontario at the National Judo Championships between 1965 and 1971, finishing as high as fourth place. He retired from competition in 1973 at the young age of 32.
Shifting his sport involvement to building, he assumed the role of Regional Instructor at the Dryden School of Judo, a school which has produced numerous Provincial Judo champions and one National champion--taking over for his father, Hiroshi (Rush), who founded the organization. The first Regional Director in northwestern Ontario for Judo Ontario and the first regional judo coach for the region, Lawrence also served as an area representative on the Northwestern Ontario Sports Council from 1980 to 1981 and served as Assistant Program Co-ordinator of the Dryden Gymnastic Club. His unique contributions to sport did not go unnoticed as he was named Dryden Sportsman of the Year.
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, October 1, 1983