"Actions are much more important than words. I am not a man of words.
Giovanni 'Gianni' Maddaloni is the founder of Star Judo Club and the Maddaloni Sport Centre in Naples. He is the father of three successful judo athletes, among which is Giuseppe Maddaloni, the 2000 Olympic champion in the lightweight division.
Giovanni grew up in Scampia, an area of Naples dominated by the camorra, a powerful local organised crime society. While many of his fellows became involved with crime, Giovanni avoided such a fate thanks partly to his judo master, who taught him not only the rules of the sport, but also respect for others. Despite opposition by the camorra, Giovanni went on to set up a judo training facility near his home. It was founded not only with the goal of teaching judo to aspiring athletes, but also as a safe and positive environment for local youth to learn the right moral values and stay away from drugs and violence and avoid the influence of the camorra.
Through the years, the centre has produced many national and international judo champions and provided a safe haven for many children and youths at risk of social exclusion. Handicapped children are encouraged to train along with others, and young criminals are rehabilitated and given a second chance. Giovanni also promotes cancer awareness, organises a prevention campaign, and has created an office where people can get diagnosed free of charge.
Giovanni has written a book about his life, his work and his son's Olympic triumph, titled The Gold of Scampia. The book was later adapted into a movie. While grateful for this success, Giovanni has stated that what he considers truly valuable is what he has given to his community. His stated dream is to put an end to organised crime in his neighbourhood, and beyond.