Orlando “the Cuban Tree Stump” Sanchez died out of the blue last Thursday night. The online grappling community would talk about it for most of the next day, until his longtime gym, Gracie Barra, confirmed the sad news in an Instagram post early last night.
The Post said, “We are deeply saddened by the news of Professor Orlando Sanchez’s death.” “Thank you for being a great friend and one of our best athletes.” They would go on to praise Sanchez’s career as a teacher and a successful competitor.
Sanchez was born on February 5, 1982, and as a kid, he tried out many different sports. In his 20s, the Californian, who played American football in college, let drugs and alcohol play a big role. But when a friend pushed him, he found his new passion in BJJ training with Draculino Black Belt Alberto Crane.
Sanchez was a force on the mats, and it didn’t take him long to get his brown belt. He trained for only three years. During this time, he frequently trained with Gracie Barra coaches and became more acquainted with the organisation as a whole. Sanchez joined GB for good as a black belt. Former GB coach José “Zé Radiola” Olmpio gave him this rank.
Sanchez may have reached the top of his sport in 2015 when he beat Jared Dropp to win the ADCC +99kg Championship. Sanchez used his famed strength and pressure to beat legends Dean Lister and Vinny Magalhes and bring home the trophy.
He would be in and out of the news about wrestling for the next few years, most notably when he got into a fight with UFC fighter Sean Strickland while training in 2021. Sanchez worked to raise awareness about mental health for both athletes and fans during his career.
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