From the Olympics to the Pride ring to morbid obesity? Olympic Gold-medalist in wrestling and one-time MMA fighter Rulon Gardner is now a contest on this season’s “The Biggest Loser.”
Gardner weighed 286 pounds when he competed at the Olympics, but now he tips the scales at 474. This led him to seek out help on NBC’s hit show, “The Biggest Loser”, where contestants compete to see who can lose the most weight and win a cash prize, as well as exercise equipment.
At the Sydney Games in 2000, Gardner pulled one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history when he earned a 1-0 victory over undefeated Russian wrestler, Alexander Karelin, in the Greco-Roman super-heavyweight division. Gardner made his victorious MMA debut at Pride Shockwave 2004 against Olympic judoka, Hidehiko Yoshida, where he ground and pounded his way to a unanimous decision win. Rulon said in an interview with NBC that he gained the weight when he continued to eat like an Olympic athlete after he stopped training for the Olympic team. Being diagnosed with sleep apnea and high blood pressure made it even more imperative that he lose weight.
On the first episode of the show which debuted this past Tuesday, Gardner had lost a whopping 32 lbs. His partner, Justin Pope, weighed in at 365 pounds with a loss of 27 lbs. With each dropping seven percent of his body weight, Gardner and Pope combined to lose 59 pounds — tops among the 11 teams in the competition. The pair also won the first challenge on the show, which was for each team to run five kilometers (3.1 miles) on a treadmill. Taking turns, Gardner and Pope were the first to complete the run.
The show will continue through May and airs Tuesday nights on NBC. Hit the jump to see part of Rulon’s MMA fight against Yoshida!