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American Victor Montalvo wins breaking world title, qualifies for sport’s Olympic debut

Victor Montalvo

Norwegian B-Boy Daniel aka Daniel Grindeland and American B-Boy Victor aka Victor Montalvo perform at the final stages of the Breaking World Championships, in Leuven, Sunday 24 September 2023. BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK (Photo by NICOLAS MAETERLINCK / BELGA MAG / Belga via AFP) (Photo by NICOLAS MAETERLINCK/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Floridian Victor Montalvo made history by winning his second world title in breaking and becoming the first American to qualify for an Olympics in the sport.

Montalvo, a 29-year-old from Kissimmee, won worlds in Leuven, Belgium, where one Olympic spot per gender was available.

He defeated Canadian Phil Kim, who goes by the stage name Phil Wizard, in Sunday’s final.

In breaking, athletes compete in one-on-one battles on a dance floor, taking alternate turns that last approximately one minute and are scored by a panel of judges. Breakers do not know what songs will be played in advance, and they must improvise to the beat of the DJ’s tracks.

Breaking debuted at the Youth Olympics in 2018 and was provisionally added for the 2024 Paris Games in June 2019, then confirmed in December 2020. So far, it is strictly on the 2024 Olympic program and not on the permanent Olympic program, though it could still be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Montalvo also won the 2021 Worlds. Last year, he added titles at the World Games -- an Olympic-like multi-sport competition that was held in Birmingham, Alabama -- and the Red Bull BC One in New York City.

He is a descendant of twin breakers — his father and uncle — who were performing in Mexico long before they taught a young Montalvo to spin on his back.

What sets Montalvo apart from other b-boys, he said last year, is his command of judge-favored foundations of breaking: “toprock” moves, footwork, “downrock” moves done closer to the floor, “power” moves showing acrobatics and strength, along with the classic “headspins,” “windmills” and “freeze” poses.

“I feel like the foundations are the most important thing,” he said. “I see a lot of dancers doing big moves, but then they don’t have those small details. They don’t know how to get out of those big moves. It’s important to create a story, and the foundations are like creating a story.”

Dominika Banevič of Lithuania, 16, won the women’s world title over 40-year-old Ayumi Fukushima of Japan.

The top American woman was Logan Edra, aka Logistx, who was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

A nation can qualify up to two breakers per gender for the Paris Games. There will be more qualifying opportunities over the next nine months.

NBC Olympic research and The Associated Press contributed to this report.