“Mel, Mel, Mel, come on! We don't have the money for all those teams! Lets be reasonable!” This was more or less the beginning of a conversation about 5 years ago between Mel and I; I was not happy with Mel as he wanted to invite more teams that I though we could sponsor. Mel was seating across the table staring at me with his bright blue eyes and not saying a word. John Walla was between Mel and I, mediating to find a solution. Mel, as always, obtained what he wanted, his patience, persistence, intelligence and vision allowed him to stay calm and let me steam off, to later obtain what he wanted, and ...what he and the NY Open deserved.
Mel was and will always remain a point of reference on and off the mat, a successful business man who has a lot to teach me in terms of corporate management and entrepreneurship, a tough fighter, a fair and very very very knowledgeable referee, and a solid friend to ask advise and support to.
We saw each other every week for the last 20 years, he refereed many of my matches in competition including my last match that I competed in 2011 as you see in the picture here below.
During randori at the NYAC often he would stand by the window the right corner of the dojo looking at me fighting hard; his eyes were piercing and to a certain level, judgmental, I would look at him to understand if I was disappointing him or not; the last time we spoke he told his wife I was a great Athlete and made me incredibly proud, he didn't say Judoka as both Mel and I know that my Judo is not that great; his judgement was always fair and resolute.
In the last few weeks Mel gave me the opportunity to know better his family, understanding his life story and appreciate what a great father and husband he is. The Shiva at his home was a fantastic emotional and human experience and also game the opportunity to meet his relatives and friends. Going forward I will refer to Mel in present tense as to me he is still with us walking the mat, organizing the NY Open Judo and loving his family. Forza Mel!
Here below a few words from Mel Appelbaum:
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