Knauf, judo’s reigning Junior Pan American champion gold medalist, was honored by the county board on Sept. 20.
“Alex has become a world-renowned champion and Olympic hopeful for all Kendall County citizens to celebrate,” county board Chairman Scott Gryder said in presenting a proclamation from the board recognizing Knauf’s efforts.
“His determination to compete, his daily discipline in training and his professionalism in the sport of judo makes Kendall County proud,” Gryder said.
The 20-year-old Knauf is USA Judo’s two-time senior national champion in his weight class, winning the 2021 competition and repeating at this year’s tournament in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Last year also brought Knauf the Jr. Pan American Games championship at the tournament in Colombia, South America.
Every morning Knauf trains at a North Aurora gym, where he lifts weights, jumps rope and engages in other conditioning exercises.
The black belt hones his judo skills at Cohen Brothers Judo Center in Vernon Hills three times a week and at Tohkon Judo Academy in Chicago twice a week.
County board member Ruben Rodriquez praised Knopf’s work ethic and noted the support of father Dennis Knauf, owner of Yorkville’s Logo Factory t-shirt printing and promotional product business.
After Gryder presented Alex Knauf with a plaque for his achievements, board members clamored for the judo star to sign the trading cards that had been passed out to everyone in the room.
Now, Alex Knauf is looking ahead to the Junior World Championships in Ecuador.
Knauf is USA Judo’s top-ranked junior and senior player. He is ranked third in the world among juniors in the 90 kilogram weight class.
At 6 feet 2 and 198 pounds, Knauf cuts an imposing figure combined with a serious disposition that is focused on success.
“I treat competing like a job,” Knauf said in an interview earlier this year. “The fun comes later when I’ve succeeded.”
Knauf is a 2020 graduate of Aurora Christian High School, where he was a standout on the wrestling team, winning second place in the 2020 Illinois High School Association state tournament in the 182-pound weight class.
He started his judo training with the Yorkville Judo Club at the age of 6 and earned his black belt in 2018 while still in high school.
“I would like to be an Olympian and then open my own judo club in Yorkville,” Knauf said.
For the moment, he is focused on the tournaments that could help place him on the U.S. Olympic team in 2024.