Twenty-five year old U.S.A Judo champion Nick Delpopolo is currently ranked #1 in the United States and # 14 in the world. In 2009, when he transitioned from junior to senior athlete, Delpopolo was only positioned at #99 in the world rankings. In 2010 he took the Judo world by storm and moved up an amazing 83 spots, rising to #16 in the world by years end. Delpopolo took Gold at the US Open, Venezuela World Cup, and El Salvador World Cup, Silver at the Samoa World Cup and USA Judo Senior National Championships, and a Bronze at the USA World Cup and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, finishing 2010 as the top medal winner in his division.
Nick Delpopolo currently trains and competes both in the United States and abroad as he continues his quest to not only be the best in the nation, but to be the best in the world. Each victory brings him one step closer to qualifying for the 2016 Olympics and achieving his dream of becoming the first American male to win an Olympic gold medal in Judo.
Nick Delpopolo (born Petra Perovic) spent the first years of his life in small orphanage in Niksic, Montenegro. He lived amidst poverty in an old disheveled building with deteriorating walls and floors made of dirt. Food was scarce and only the infants were allowed milk. Cribs lined the walls of the crowded quarters and cries of hungry children constantly filled the air. Like most children at the orphanage, Nick’s future was very uncertain.
A married couple from the United States, Dominic and Joyce Delpopolo, came to the orphanage when Nick was 21 months old, a visit that would forever change his life. The couple from Westfield, NJ wanted to adopt a young child and were unable to do so in America (Dominic was in his mid-fifties and Joyce in her forties). Dominic’s family was from Serbia, so they decided to start the adoption process there. The Delpopolo’s traveled back and forth to Serbia many times before they were taken to the small orphanage in Montenegro where they adopted Nick.
In 2009 Nick accompanied his parents on a trip to Montenegro to re-visit the orphanage. During this visit Nick was given his birth mother’s information and still has it to this day. During this same trip, he also found out the identity of his birth father. The Delpopolo’s drove to his place of business in the village, but Nick made them promise that they would not divulge his identity. Nick saw his father that day, but they never spoke. When the time is right Nick plans to send both of his parents a letter with newspaper articles and photos so that they will know what has become of the son that they gave up so long ago.
While Nick was still a Junior he began climbing the U.S. Men’s roster. At just 19 years old, Nick qualified for the 2008 Olympic Trials in Las Vegas, NV. He was the youngest competitor in the division. Nick advanced to the Semi-Finals and lost a controversial match to Ryan Reser, who was the #1 ranked seed at the trials. Although Nick received a penalty early in the match he went on to throw Reser twice. Unfortunately, neither score was called, therefore Nick lost on the penalty. Reser went on to represent the U.S. in Beijing.
In 2011 Nick fell into a bit of a slump and although he remained top 16 in the World he had wanted to be doing better than he was. After a hard look at his situation Nick admitted that he had fell out of sync with himself and he needed a drastic change if he wanted to keep his Olympic dreams alive. He moved back to upstate, NY to reconnect with his long-time coach Jason Morris. One month after returning to his roots Delpopolo flew to England and became the first American man ever to win the Liverpool World Cup. 7 months after that Nick flew to Miami for the “Hour of Power” an Olympic Trials between him and long-time rival Michael Eldred. Eldred had kept his ranking inside of the top 22 in the World which forced the two athletes to fight off for the Olympic spot. Nick won the trials in an epic battle with Eldred and credits Jason Morris for turning his career around.
With the blessing of Coach Jason Morris – who Nick consults and works with on a regular basis – Nick has moved to Miami, FL to prepare for his second Olympics in Rio De Janeiro in 2016. Nick is working with his own specialized team of Coaches and Physical Trainers to prepare for Rio and is now calling Budokan Judo Club under former assistant Olympic Coach Evelio Garcia his Home Dojo. Nick also commutes to Ki Itsu Sai National Training Center for additional Judo training and has a staff of personal trainers pushing him under the guidance of Jesus Gallo at Elite Athletes Performance, in South Miami, where he does his physical training.
Nick Delpooplo is well on his way to achieving his dream of becoming an Olympic champion and is poised to bring home the gold for USA Judo in 2016. By doing so, he will forever etch his name in Judo history by becoming the first male American Judo player to ever bring home an Olympic gold medal. Delpopolo is ready to show the world that with focus and determination, anyone can achieve their dreams.