Athlete Focus: Trent Sabo


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I conducted a phone interview with Trent on April 1st, 2015. His story is an interesting one, and it offers quite a bit of insight into sumo, and also how the sport has presented itself in the US. Please keep in mind that this article is not an exact transcript of the interview, but rather an adaptation of the notes into a narrative form.


By Richard Crenwelge


The first question that I asked Trent was about how he became interested in sumo, and his answer was very plain, and perhaps uniquely American. He said that it began with watching Sumo Digest on television, which was a program that came on later at night, usually from 11:30 to midnight. “It combined the best parts of football and wrestling,” he said, and mentioned that he had enjoyed watching the US vs Japan.


Many years later, while Trent was in high school, he went with a female friend to a gym that offered cardio kickboxing. While she was attending the kickboxing class, Trent and his brother saw an advertisement in the back of a magazine for a local sumo tournament. If for no reason other than impulsive, teenage fun, Trent called all his friends from high school and encouraged them to participate. At that first tournament, Trent recalls that he and his friends all received medals.


While attending college in Rhode Island a short time later, Trent competed at the 2000 U.S. Nationals in New Jersey, where he claims he had a very poor showing. Driven by his competitive nature, however, Trent returned to Nationals for the next two years, where he placed second in 2001, and received gold in 2002. That 2002 tournament qualified him for the World Sumo Championships in Poland, and that is when Trent’s Career in sumo began to write an even more interesting story. Quite impressively, Trent went 2-2 at that World Championships. Over the next couple of years, Trent continued to train, and in 2004, became famous within the sport for living out of his car, in an effort to focus solely on training. It was that year that he competed at the Dutch World Cup in Holland, where he received another gold medal.


I mentioned before that his story is perhaps uniquely American, and his training is a testament to this idea. Trent did not have any formal training in sumo. There were no coaches, and training partners were limited to friends or other amateur wrestlers. Trent recalls training sumo as a sub-sport, with the primary athletic development taking place through football line drills, wrestling drills, and weightlifting. He also recalled that he became proficient with sumo by simply doing it, and he often would watch other wrestlers during his travels, taking mental notes on their grips and stance, or how they used certain elements like strength, agility, and speed.


The most inspiring thing about Trent’s story is that he was presented with an opportunity and he ran with it. Despite the fact that he was not a professional athlete, and he received zero formal support from any sporting organizations, Trent trained hard and did the best with what he had available. In order for the sport to grow here, the trail had to be first broken by athletes like this, who boldly ventured into what was largely unknown territory.


U.S. Nationals 2015 Announced!

Watch the 30 second promo video

Check out the Facebook Event Info

Parkville Athletic Complex

Parkville, Missouri (Kansas City)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Matt Ritchie, Tournament Director

Questions? Email


This will be the World Championships qualifier in Osaka, Japan

On August 29th & 30th



Other Sumo Links:


International Sumo Federation


European Sumo Union



To contact us:
United States Sumo Federation

Attn: Americus Abesamis

827 N. Hollywood Way, #473

Burbank, CA 91505-2841
Kelly Gneiting (AZ) 928-309-1776
Andrew Freund (CA) 310-617-9641
Matt Ritchie (AZ) 816-468-3092

Tom Zabel (TX) 210-478-2267

Trent Sabo (ID) 208-821-5802
Andrew Freund (CA) 310-617-9641
Tiffany Tran (CA) 818-275-0539


Jesse DeSimon (CA) 775-453-1444


Treasurer & Membership Coordinator
Americus Abesamis (CA) 201-913-0710


Fax: 888-284-5573














Click the Map to find your closest USSF Contact/Club

2014 U.S. National Sumo Championships Results, Jackson, WY:

Junior Womens:
Light Gold: Celine VanHoye
Heavy Gold: Sarena Gneiting
Open Gold: Celine VanHoye
Open Silver: Sarena Gneiting

Junior Mens:
Light Gold: Ian Colton
Light Silver: Caleb Gay
Light Bronze: Josh Gay
Middle Gold: Hunter Mower
Open Gold: Ian Colton
Open Silver: Caleb Gay
Open Bronze: Josh Gay

Senior Womens:
Light Gold: Jenelle Hamilton
Light Silver: Celine VanHoye
Light Bronze: Sonya Del Gallego
Middle Gold: Tiffany Tran
Heavy Gold: Amanda Soule
Heavy Silver: Melanie Rivas
Heavy Bronze: Kendra Brinker
Open Gold: Jenelle Hamilton
Open Silver: Kendra Brinker
Open Bronze: Tiffany Tran

Senior Mens:
Light Gold: Andre Coleman
Light Silver: Andrew Freund
Light Bronze: Jessi DeSimone
Middle Gold: Kena Heffernan
Middle Silver: Colton Runyan
Middle Bronze: Robert Daniels
Heavy Gold: Jay Holder
Heavy Silver: Matt Ritchie
Heavy Bronze: James Brewster Thompson
Open Gold: Kena Heffernan
Open Silver: Jay Holder
Open Bronze: Colton Runyan

Masters Middle:
Middle Gold: Kena Heffernan
Middle Silver: Robert Daniel
Heavy Gold: James Brewster Thompson
Heavy Silver: Americus Abesamis
Open Gold: Kena Heffernan
Open Silver: Robert Daniel
Open Bronze: Americus Abesamis

Rookie Men:
Open Gold: Levi Kendrick
Open Silver: Derek Jefferies
Open Bronze: Jessie DeSimone


Congratulations to the World Championships Qualifiers:

Juniors, Light Gold:

Celine VanHoye
Juniors, Heavy Gold:

Sarena Gneiting
Juniors, Light Gold:

Ian Colton
Juniors, Middle Gold:

Hunter Mower
Juniors, Open Silver:

Caleb Gay
Seniors, Light Gold:

Jenelle Hamilton
Seniors, Middle Gold:

Tiffany Tran
Seniors, Heavy Gold:

Amanda Soule
Seniors, Open Silver:

Kendra Brinker
Seniors, Light Gold:

Andre Coleman
Seniors, Middle Gold:

Kena Heffernan
Seniors, Heavy Gold:

Jay Holder
Seniors, Open Bronze:

Colton Runyan 

Trent Sabo, at the Peak of Training