UNSTOPPABLE: From Underdog to Undefeated: How I Became a Champion (2012)
2011 NCAA National Wrestling Champion
2011 recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance (ESPYs)
2012 National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee
Graduate of Arizona State University, Business Communications
Disabled Wrestling Champ Unstoppable with God
The 700 Club
CBN.com-AN ALL AMERICAN WRESTLER WHO DEFIED THE ODDS
Anthony Robles is a three-time all-American wrestler, the 2011 NCAA National Wrestling Champion, and a Nike-sponsored athlete. What makes this athlete truly unique is that he was also born with only one leg. On July 20, 1988, the doctors were not prepared when his mother, Judy Robles, age 16, gave birth to a baby boy who was missing his right leg. The doctors could not explain to his mother what went wrong or why Anthony was missing a leg, but at the age of five, the one-legged boy scaled a fifty-foot pole unassisted. From that moment on, Judy knew without a doubt that her son would be unstoppable.
As a young boy, Anthony remembers feeling uncomfortable about having only one leg, and desired, like most children, “to blend in.” But Anthony’s mom always encouraged him. Anthony says his mother always said, “There is nothing wrong with you,” and after hearing it over and over, the message started to stick. “Because I was young and trusting, I believed her,” Anthony says. “And so, in perfect seriousness, at the age of seven, I set a goal for myself to someday play for the Oakland Raiders.” Anthony’s mom also gave him a message about God.
“My mom, however, always told me growing up that "God made me this way for a reason" and she made me believe it.”
Anthony found that reason, and his purpose, on the wrestling mat when he was 14 years old. “I felt like that was my calling, that was the plan for my life. And I struggled for quite a bit, but I always knew the whole time that wrestling was something I was meant to do, I was born to do,” he says. When Anthony first began wrestling in high school, he was the smallest kid on the team and finished the year in last place. “My first year was horrible. I was the smallest kid on the team weighing in at a whopping ninety pounds and without question, the worst wrestler; finishing my first year with 5-8 record and in last place at the Mesa City wrestling tournament,” he says. “Not many people believed that a tiny kid born with one leg, the worst wrestler in the city, would ever excel in such a demanding sport. However, with the support of my family and my coaches, I believed I could one day be a champion wrestler; I believed that I could be unstoppable.” Despite various obstacles along the way, Anthony went from being last in the city to finishing his junior and senior years at Mesa High School with a 96-0 record, a 2-time Arizona State Champion and a high school National Champion.
Anthony’s success on the map brought with it a new challenge. “When I was losing more matches than I won, people congratulated me for trying hard,” he says. “They patted me on the back ‘for just being out here.’ I’m grateful to them for their encouragement.” But when he was winning, he noticed a different attitude started to emerge in the “comments” sections of online articles and discussion threads. “My detractors argued that, as a one-legged wrestler, I had a distinct advantage,” he says. “My opponents had one fewer limbs to grab onto. How was that fair? Plus, I possess the upper body strength of a wrestler from a higher weight class.” He said that while he would have liked to let the comments roll off his back, they really made him mad, at first. “The missing leg didn’t seem like an advantage when I was getting pinned every other match in ninth grade,” he says. Fortunately, Anthony listened to the encouragement of a coach who told him that if he wasn’t good, nobody would even notice him. He took the online chatter as additional proof that he was making a mark. One positive thing he took away from the negative reviews, people were no longer treating him special simply because he was missing a leg. He was finally “blending in” and being treated like a normal guy, which is what he’d always wanted.
Despite finishing with an awesome high school record, few college wrestling programs believed Anthony could excel at the next level. “They thought I was too small to wrestle in college and that a one legged wrestler could never compete with the nation’s best college wrestlers,” he says. “My mom raised me with my head in the clouds, so I believed I could do anything I set my mind to.” This way of thinking compelled Anthony to walk onto the Arizona State University wrestling team to prove to them, and the world, anything was possible. Despite hardships on and off the mat—including the temptation to quit school and get a job to help his family when they lost their home to foreclosure—Anthony focused his determination and became a champion once again. He finished college as a 3-time All-American and the 2011 NCAA National Champion. “Although my competition days on the mat are over, I will continue to wrestle the opponents life brings my way all the while believing that I am unstoppable.”
Since winning the national championship in March 2011, Anthony has become a nationally recognized role model to kids and adults alike. While Anthony knows his struggles are unique to him, he acknowledges that we all have our own challenges to overcome in life. “Not everybody’s going after a national wrestling title and not everybody is dealing with the challenge of having one leg, but we all have our own opponents we wrestle with, we all have our own challenges we deal with in our lives. You can achieve anything you set your mind to as long as you believe that anything’s possible,” he says.
Anthony was raised in church and has always had a relationship with God. While he never realized his childhood dream of playing in the NFL, God has positioned him to meet and interact with some pro-players. After his NCAA win, and after winning the prestigious Jimmy V award at the ESPYs, he had the opportunity to spend some time with the New York Jets and even deliver the “shower prayer” during warm-ups. “Not long before kick-off, a lot of players gather, of all places, in the shower to say a pre-game prayer,” Anthony says. Standing beside players he describes as “giant men who appeared even bigger in all their gear,” Anthony and the players grabbed hands and prayed. “I kept it short and sweet,” he says. “Even when I was wrestling, I never prayed for victory. I wouldn’t have felt right. Standing there among the showerheads, I asked the Lord to protect my brothers; I prayed for the angels to cover them with their wings while they competed, to keep them safe. I felt really blessed to have had that opportunity.”
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.