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Growing up in Dryden, this builder of sports showed signs of leadership early on, competing on a number of teams and serving as the President of Dryden High School's Athletic Association and as their representative at the Ontario Athletic Leadership Camp during the 1950s.

Getting involved with the Dryden Judo Club, he spent a decade taking instruction from Hall of Famer Rush Mitani, before a relocation saw him as a participant and instructor at the Kenora Judo Kai. Helping in the training of young athletes, his students produced results at the provincial and national level. Venturing out on his own, Merv established the Jaffray Melick Judo Club in 1976 at the Cecelia Jeffrey Students Residence.

Starting out with sewn together mattresses, fundraising efforts soon led to some newer equipment and a move to the former Co-op Store. In no time at all, his students were developing the skills necessary to compete successfully from the local to the international level and the confidence and discipline that would guide them in their lives.

Travelling 2800 miles over 60 hours to attend their first United States Junior Nationals in Arkansas, the club faced competitors from 42 states, Mexico and Canada, returning home with a USJA silver medal and putting in impressive 5th and 6th place showings. For the next three decades Merv's students represented their region with pride at Canadian, US National, Junior Olympic and Judo Pan Am events.

In addition to his coaching duties, Merv has also contributed his time serving as a provincial Referee and helping in the development of clubs throughout the region. A 5th Degree Black Belt, and Level III Certified Coach, he has served as a Director with the regional judo association and as a member of the Judo Ontario Council for northwestern Ontario. His efforts have not gone unnoticed, receiving a number of honours, including the Ontario Male Coach of the Year title for 1999.

Leading his students to over 50 national titles, and more than 20 black belts, this outstanding builder's efforts have left a positive and lasting legacy on the lives of thousands of athletes and contributed greatly to the development of the sport of judo in Canada for close to half a century.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 25, 2004

Merv King

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