FitCon 2019 Wrap-up

This is the Greatest Show

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Kelly Gneiting, April 15, 2019

What a fantastic weekend! Thank you to all who participated in the inaugural FitCon Sumo Cup 2019, Salt Lake City.

On Friday, April 12, 2019 (Day 1) 68 matches took place, totaling 3 hours that evening. Then Saturday (Day 2) Trent Sabo put on a 1.5-hour training camp for guys that would eventually medal in the team competition. 77 matches took place that day, totaling 5.5 hours, for a grand total of 145 matches, not including the matches Casey Burns had with kids at a few intermissions. A total of 32 athletes competed.

Competitors were featured on many LIVE (and post-production) television segments for NBC and FOX affiliates of Salt Lake City, and were LIVE on three of the region’s biggest radio stations.

On the Wednesday before the tournament, the secretary of FitCon, Erynn Kerrigan, asked this tournament director for a press release because of all of their media inquiries, mentioning that Snake River Sumo Association must have their own Public Relations department. No we don’t. Sumo sells itself!

The tournament opened up to the song “This is the Greatest Show” by Hugh Jackman, Keala Settle and others. And truly PT Barnum has nothing on sumo. It was a pleasure telling the audiences of hundreds that sumo is older than all the other competitive sports in the Salt Palace put together. Truly, it was a great show this past weekend, with some INCREDIBLE displays of athleticism!

Just before each championship match Queen’s We Will Rock You blared aloud, and continued until the end of the bout. This pumped up the crowd as well as the athletes!

The main event on Day 1 was the OPEN competition, won by a Salt Lake City local—390-pound Rob McConkie, with a background in Judo.

Day 2’s main event was the TEAM competition, won by another Salt Lake City local and his team member from Denver—George Ferris and Tyler Neitzel. The modified team competition was a big hit! It allowed teams of two, where a team advanced after competing a minimum of two matches, and a maximum of five. If both team-members won their first two matches, they advanced in the bracket, if not each team member swapped competitors and went two more matches. If each team had a record of 2-2, then a 5th match took place with each team deciding who to send forward! This format added to sumo’s depiction of the battlefield, where each loss was a letdown to not only that person, but his team-member also. 19-year old Tyler Neitzel ended his 15-match tournament with a bloody face while accepting one of three fighting spirit awards!

The competition also had a Mens’ Lightweight division, a Mens’ Heavyweight division, Womens’ Lightweight and Heavyweight divisions, a Beginners division and a Masters division (age 45+). See Results below.

The competition’s completion ended with a feast of unlimited Chankonabe and beer for all, as the organizers collected the dohyo and rolled up the mats (with a lot of grateful help from a few athletes). Before we all separated, a prayer of thanksgiving was offered by Carl Pappalardo, and a moment of silence for the passing of two American sumo greats—Yoshisada Yonezuka and Manny Yarbrough. Casey Burns then got all our hands in a circle for a final war-cry of SUMO!

The FitCon director, Dallin Rogers, was delighted at the results of FitCon 2019 sumo, and has heard nothing but good from fans and other organizers. He’s excited to take this tournament upward and onward in 2020, hoping to build it into a grand vision of being one of the biggest sumo competitions in the world! Kelly has handed the organizing of the tournament over to Andre Coleman and his wife, Cody Stout. Andre knows that expectations are sky high. This is a tournament for the athletes and FitCon community, and is not designed to financially benefit anybody. No money, other than reimbursing costs, was made from this event.


Note: Kelly Gneiting has built a bracketing model in Microsoft Excel which makes for a smooth transition from match to match within a double-elimination format. Matches in this event were continuous, with no break unless athletes were forced to compete in consecutive matches, and only to allow them rest. This Excel file (model) is available to anyone who wants to put on a smooth-transitioning tournament; just ask him for it at

Many videos of matches are available on Facebook, under Americus Abesamis (Thank you Americus!!)

MENS LIGHTWEIGHT (6 competitors):

  1. Baatar Munkhbold (Mongolia)
  2. Cornelius Booker (USA, Florida)
  3. Avirmed Tumenjargl (Mongolia)

MENS HEAVYWEIGHT (13 competitors + Trent Sabo):

  1. Deep Kundi (England)
  2. Shawn Jackson (USA, Pennsylvania)
  3. Darius Campbell (USA, Ohio)

MENS OPENWEIGHT (17 competitors)

  1. Rob McConkie (USA, Utah)
  2. Baatar Munkhbold (Mongolia)
  3. Trent Sabo (USA, Idaho)

WOMENS LIGHTWEIGHT (3 competitors):

  1. Stacie Clyde (USA, Wyoming)
  2. Janna VanWitbeck (USA, Idaho)
  3. RoxAnne Jenkins (USA, Wyoming)

WOMENS HEAVYWEIGHT (4 competitors):

  1. Natalie Burns (USA, Idaho)
  2. Manhattan Fredrickson (USA, Utah)
  3. Cody Stout (USA, Louisiana)

BEGINNERS OPEN (7 competitors):

  1. George Ferris (USA, Utah)
  2. Darius Campbell (USA, Ohio)
  3. John Mouser (USA, West Virginia)

MENS MASTERS DIVISION (3 competitors):

  1. Kelly Gneiting (USA, New Mexico)
  2. Shawn Jackson (USA, Pennsylvania)
  3. Americus Abesamis (USA, California)

MEN’S TEAM COMPETITION (7 Teams of two):

  1. George Ferris/Tyler Neitzel (USA, Utah & USA, Colorado)
  2. Trent Sabo/Ronnie Galloway (USA, Idaho & USA, Colorado)
  3. Matt Anderson/Cornelius Booker (USA, Idaho & USA, Florida)


  1. Gabe Unick (USA, Michigan)
  2. Tyler Neitzel (USA, Denver)
  3. Ronnie Galloway (USA, Utah)

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