Anthony Robles did not begin his life like most other people.
He was born on July 20, 1988, with only one leg. The doctors could not determine why this happened, and it was just part of who Anthony was. Since his leg was missing from the hip down, a prosthetic would have been difficult if not impossible.
Throughout his childhood, Anthony had his mother on his side. She told him, “God made you this way for a reason.”
Holding to that, Anthony made a decision. He would find a way to work around his one leg. He chose to do this through strength. He believed that he could do anything.
He started a regimen of exercises that were all designed to make him strong. As he grew older, his efforts began to pay off in the form of athletic achievement. When he was in the sixth grade, he got his school’s attention for his perseverance and by the eighth grade he had joined the wrestling team. Many of his cousins were also involved in the sport and he was interested.
All his work didn’t immediately bring him much prestige or gave him much hope for becoming a wrestler.
As a freshman in high school he placed last in his city of Mesa, Arizona. He was the tiniest kid on the team, weighing only 90 pounds.
At the time, he was underweight for the lowest weight class by ten pounds.
However, due to his use of crutches, he had an impressive grip strength that gave him an edge.
He wanted to become better at wrestling, he believed he could do it. With the help and belief of his family and his coaches, he began to train.
He stuck with it because he loved it. His love for the sport pushed him to do better every day.
He began to transform under the intensive instruction. Unlike a person with two legs, Anthony had a different center of gravity, this allowed him to fend off aggressive wrestling moves in a completely different way.
He mastered several of his own offensive moves, including one he created for himself.
By the time his sophomore year rolled around, he was ranked sixth in the state of Arizona.
By the end of high school he’d won state twice and never lost a match. His score was 96-0. As a senior he made it to nationals and won. His final high school score was 129-15.
Despite his stellar performance as a high school wrestler, he wasn’t offered a scholarship by any of his top choices for university.
Unfortunately, this may have been due to his missing leg.
Despite this setback, Anthony wouldn’t be stopped.
He attended Arizona State University and participated as a redshirt with their team. That way he would be able to take classes and participate in practices, although he wasn’t allowed to compete. He ended up making it to the 2006 FILA Junior World Championship and placed sixth in the 55kg Freestyle Wrestling category.
This got the attention of the coaches and, by 2007, his college wrestling career began. During his first year he ranked nationally and was just short of being named an All-American athlete.
In the 2008-2009 season he accomplished even more, receiving All-American honors. He finished that year with a 29-8 score and won the Pacific-10 Conference Championship at 125 pounds and finished fourth in the NCAA Championships 125 pounds.
Nothing was stopping him, his dedication to his sport and ability was shining through.
By the 2009-2010 season he once again earned the title of All-American, finished seventh in NCAA 125 pound weight class, and won the Pacific-10 conference a second time.
He finished out his college career undefeated, 36-0. He became a three time Pacific-10 champion, national champion, and became the 125 pound NCAA Champion, 7-1 in the finals. This was a powerful moment.
The match took place on an elevated mat and Anthony climbed the stairs up to it on his crutches, before laying them down.
He hopped into the ring and faced his opponent. Using the strength he had from his crutches and the moves he had practiced over and over throughout his high school and early college career, he took the lead and kept it.
His perseverance brought him his championship and spread inspiration amongst others. People would write him letters and reach out to him on social media. They were inspired by his story, and he was inspired in turn.
His achievement was marked by his fellow athletes and the organizers of the conference. He was voted the Most Outstanding Wrestler. He ended his college career as a three time All-American, as well. Today, Anthony Robles ranks eight for the most match wins by an Arizona State University Wrestler.
In January 2012, he was recognized by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association as the 2011 Most Courageous Athlete.
Anthony served as an inspiring example to athletes of all kinds. That same year he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Upon graduation, Anthony began to look at where he could go next. He hadn’t let the unique attributes of his body stop him from doing what he wanted to do, despite what society would have told him.
He pushed through, finding strength in himself and in his dedication.
Anthony wanted to share that story and that passion for reaching a dream with other people, especially those that faced challenges similar to his own.
Today, he is a motivational speaker and author, telling the story of his journey to audiences around the country.
Anthony Robles believed that he could be unstoppable, and that belief carried him through his challenges from both his body and the feelings of those around them. Sometimes, people can accomplish more with what they’ve been given, because they put their minds to it and don’t give up even when things seem impossible.
Watch him win the National Championship.