When people think of the Olympia Weekend, they think about bodybuilders that are flexing onstage, posing down for the fans, and inspiring people around the world with their physiques and stories of success. Bodybuilding is associated with muscles, abs, and definition, but there are many ways one can build a body, and there are many reasons to do so, including sumo wrestling.
“This is a different type of bodybuilding,” said Dan Kalbfleisch, who is a renowned athlete in the sport. “But we’re quite literally building our bodies to have the best chance to win. It’s not the type of bodybuilding that is aesthetically pleasing, but we’re still building our bodies. That belly helps lower the center of gravity so you can’t get pushed over as easy.”
Dan Kalbfleisch is a 12-time United States Sumo champion, His career began in 2005 after he saw a documentary about the sport. While he was training, his mentor was a heavyweight competitor, so he had to add mass to his frame in order to hold his own in training.
“Once I was able to add that size, I could work more on technique and get better at the sport.”
Within two years, he won his first U.S. championship as a middleweight competitor, which capped at 253 pounds. However, he didn’t win the middleweight title. He won the Openweight title, which had no weight limits at all.
“Bascially, all of the weight classes fight each other,” he explained. Once he saw that early success, the momentum continued, and he won 11 more championships by the time he shifted his full focus to promoting the sport. At his heaviest, he weighed 385 pounds. That wasn’t simply sitting and eating. Sumo wrestlers are dedicated athletes like you would see in any other sport. They use weight training and focus on flexibility and moving of the feet to become masters of moving and resisting force.
“You train hours for seconds,” he said. “I’ve been weight training since I was 12.”
Kalbfleisch is proud of his success in the sport and wants to give back as well as introduce sumo wrestling to new fans around the world. That’s why he is proud to be holding an event at the 2023 Olympia World Fitness Expo on Nov. 3-4 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Kalbfleisch is hosting the 2023 Sumo Dan Olympia Sumo Championships. Dozens of competitors from around the world will gather in Orlando to compete in matches in multiple divisions featuring both men and women. You could see several matches, but don’t expect them to last too long.
“The average match lasts about five seconds. They’re pretty quick. You either push your opponent out of the ring or on the ground. There’s no room for error.”
Dan Kalbfleisch has held events at the Olympia in the past, and he’s excited to be back as part of the 2023 World Fitness Expo.
“I want to give these athletes the kind of chance I never got. So, I’m trying to make the sport bigger and reconnecting with the Olympia can certainly help me do that.”
For more information about Sumo Dan’s event and to learn more about the athletes competing in the 2023 Sumo Dan event, follow @sumodanusa on Instagram. To see this event as well as the rest of over 30 events happening in the Orange County Convention Center during the Olympia Weekend, beat the lines by getting expo passes over at www.mrolympia.com .