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Wrestling Champ Anthony Robles Strives Past Disability to Reach Success

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IMay 16, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13:  Wrestler Anthony Robles accepts the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance onstage at The 2011 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

When you think of Anthony Robles, you can’t help but think of perseverance and the fortitude to get past all of life’s setbacks and still achieve greatness.  

Robles won the 2010-11 NCAA individual wrestling championship in the 125-pound weight class despite being born with only one leg.

He showed at a very early age that he was a true competitor when he refused to wear his prosthetic leg. At the tender age of three, he began maneuvering around without the use of that leg, strengthening his body with various exercises. By six, he was already demonstrating that strength when he set a record for the most pushups by a member of his school.

In the eighth grade, Robles started wrestling, influenced by watching one of his older cousins. In high school, he won two wrestling championships, going 96-0 in his junior and senior years combined. He was perfect, even if his body was not.

After finishing his high school career with a record of 129-15, Robles enrolled at Arizona State, where he became a NCAA Division I Wrestling champion at 125 pounds.

Having a disability may have made lesser men quit, but Robles is made of much tougher cloth.  In fact, the word “quit” is not in Anthony’s vocabulary. His mother, Judy Robles, simply would not allow it.

In July of 2011, Judy told ESPN’s Kalani Simpson, "Knowing that he was different, it was kind of like my job as his mom that he never felt it. Maybe I overdid it in a way. Maybe I wanted him to be so normal that I kind of pushed him."

As a result, it just never occurred to Anthony that he shouldn’t be beating wrestlers with two good legs. After all, he won the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and it was Jimmy V. himself who at the very first ESPYs said, "Don't give up. Don't ever give up."

Robles' speech at the 2011 ESPY’s had a theme of “Unstoppable,” and that’s exactly what he has been. He finished his 2010-11 senior season 36-0, and he beat the defending national champion, Matt McDonough in the final.

Although his days of competing on the mat are over, Anthony still wrestles with the day-to-day challenges of life. I wouldn’t bet against him.

Presented by MetLife. I Can Do This. 

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