Gold Medalist Baron Nishi’s Riding Crop Returns to Japan

In 1932 at the Los Angeles Olympics, Baron Takeichi Nishi became the first and only Japanese to win a gold medal in equestrian in Olympic history. He was beloved by the local Southern California community – a friend of Hollywood luminaries such as Charlie Chaplain and Douglas Fairbanks – and the pride of the growing Japanese American community at the time. Just a little over a decade later as a Japanese Army officer, he died in the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, as was recounted in Clint Eastwood’s film “Letters from Iwo Jima.” 

In 1964, the Helms Foundation was gifted Baron Nishi’s riding crop by his widow. It was transferred to the LA84 Foundation when the Helms collection was acquired by LA84 following the 1984 Olympic Games, and remains in its collection today.

The LA84 Foundation has decided to gift this special riding crop to the descendants of Olympian Baron Nishi.
Included in the announcement of the gifting are special messages from the great-grandson of Baron Nishi Mitsuhiko Nishi, local officials including LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Holly Mitchell, LA City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, and screenwriter Iris Yamashita of “Letters from Iwo Jima.” 

The announcement will be moderated by David Ono of KABC-TV, with special guests including actor and producer Masi Oka, President and CEO of the LA84 Foundation Renata Simril, and Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles Akira Muto.

The program is available here.