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ARENA Training Center specializes in Japanese Judo Martial Arts founded in 2011 by Steve Papadakis.






Steve Papadakis, Founder

Steve holds a First Degree Black Belt and is a certified Judo coach. He has been actively training in Judo for over 12 years. He has trained numerous world-class level competitors, including his daughter Nefeli.

  • 1st degree Black Belt
  • Coaching staff for 2013-2014 Pan-American Infantile Team
  • Coaching staff for 2015-2016 Cadet and Junior World Team
  • National boxing High School Champion (Greece)
  • Steve also volunteers his free time to non-profit charitable organizations


Nefeli Papadakis, Lead Instructor

Nefeli has been training in Judo since she was 4 years old. She is actively working towards her goal to reach the 2020 Olympics. Her work ethic drives her desire to pass her knowledge and skill to her students.

  • 1st Degree Blank Belt
  • Ranked #1 in US and #17 in World for weight class
  • GOLD at 2017 Senior National Championships
  • GOLD at 2017 Iliadis Junior European Championships
  • 5th at 2015 Cadet World Championships
  • 2015 Cadet World Team (Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina)
  • 2015 Junior World Team (Abu Dhabi, AUE)
  • Repeat Illinois State Champion 
  • Repeat National Champion 
  • European Cup Gold Medalist (Greece: 1st place)
  • Cadet World Team Member (BOSNIA: 5th place)
  • 5X World Team Member (2013-2017)
  • Team USA - Junior Development (Tokyo Olympics 2020)


George Papadakis, Instructor

George has been training in Judo since he was eight yeas old. He wishes to share his knowledge and pride of being a Judo instructed competitor. He creates an atmosphere that focuses on fun development of the body and mind. 

1st Degree Black Belt
Repeat Illinois State Champion
2011 National Champion





Alex - 1st Degree Black Belt


Ernie - 1st Degree Black Belt



USA Judo:

United States Judo Federation (USJF):

United States Judo Association (USJA):

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