Every time Anthony Robles was on the mat at the NCAA tournament this past weekend, a buzz came up from the more than 15,000 fans who were at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. You could hear people whisper, "Do you see him?" When Robles is on the mat, it's hard not to watch. He worked his way through the tournament, losing only twice and garnering All-American honors along the way. There are 79 other young men who just earned the same honor, so what was it about him that drew so much attention?
Robles was born with one leg. He wrestled for Arizona St. in the 125-lb. division, and as a sophomore, took fourth in the NCAA. His lack of a leg has never held him back. In fact, he was a high school national champion, and highly recruited before deciding on Arizona St. He moves around the mat with the same strength and flexibility as every other competitor. Much like Dan Henderson, C.B. Dollaway, Ryan Bader and Cain Velasquez, Robles is also a Sun Devil who loves MMA. He has been to UFC events in the past, and has worked out at Arizona Combat Sports.
Off the mat, he moves around with the uses of crutches, eschewing a prosthetic since youth. The crutches may actually be one of the reasons why Robles is such a successful wrestler. His overwhelming upper body strength, built up not only in the weight room but also in the every day acts of getting around, helps him on the mat. Watch in this video how he can put opponents on their back with ease using that strength.
Robles' abilities on the mat are amazing, and he is unquestionably the most decorated collegiate wrestler with this sort of disability. With every win, he is prying open doors for other athletes who thought they couldn't compete because they were missing part of an arm, or a leg. But the really good news is that his chances to compete aren't limited to wrestling. Fighter Franky Van Hove, out of Holland, shows that two legs aren't necessary to win a fight.
Robles sees himself as a regular guy, just trying to do well in his sport. He is happy that he serves as an inspiration to others, but like any competitor, he just wants to win. He just took fourth in the country as a sophomore. The winning isn't going to stop any time soon.
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