What was the greatest sports story of the past weekend? Some may argue it was Virginia Commonwealth rolling into the Sweet 16 after no one believed they deserved to be in the tournament. Some may even say it’s the Butler Bulldogs, who find new ways to win nail biting college basketball games in the closing seconds. What most people won’t realize is that the best sports story of the past weekend or even the past month, had nothing do with with college basketball or even billionaire owners locking out million dollar football players in the courtroom. It had to do with overcoming adversity and making the most with what you’re given, not complaining, and fighting with all the heart you have. Ladies and gentlemen meet Anthony Robles. The 22-year old, one-legged wrestler, took home the 125-pound NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship in Philadelphia on Saturday. Robles defeated defending champion Matt McDonough of Iowa 7-1. The NCAA Division I Championship crown for Robles capped off a perfect season at 36-0 for the senior out of Arizona State. Robles plans to move onto motivational speaking now that his wrestling career is over.
He would like to return the favor and help those in need of a pick me up.
You would never even know Robles had a disadvantage because he dominated his competition. It was an emotional weekend for Anthony Robles. We could all learn something after seeing this story unfold. It proves with heart and desire anything can be achieved. Anthony Robles joined The Dan Patrick Show to discuss when he started to participate in organized wrestling, whether he was naturally gifted at the sport when he first started competing, if he he ever get treated differently by his coaches and teammates because of his physical ‘handicap’, if he ever feels sorry for himself despite all the success he’s carved out for himself as a young man, what he was thinking in the moments prior to his championship match on Saturday, and how he’s looking forward to helping other young men in similar situations achieve their goals now that his own wrestling career is over and done with.
When did you start wrestling?
“I started wrestling when I was freshmen in high school. I really didn’t have an interest in it, but my older cousin was a wrestler and he was just kind of dragging me to the practices. One day he just asked me if I wanted to jump in and as far as one of his guys and I just kind of ran with it from there and fell in love with the sport.”
Where you good at wrestling right away?
“Oh no, I was terrible actually. That first year I finished with a 5-8 record and I was actually last in my city, so I wasn’t very good starting off.”
Do you get treated differently by your coaches and teammates?
“No I don’t and that was actually one of the things I really wanted to stress starting off wrestling and especially getting into Arizona State. I wanted to be treated like everybody else. My parents didn’t raise me with any special treatment and so I grew up thinking I was just a normal kid. I wanted to be treated as such. It was real important for me as a captain, as one of the captains at Arizona State, to show the guys I’m just like them and now I can be right alongside of them busting my butt and working as hard as they were.”
Do you ever feel sorry for yourself?
“Absolutely not. I believe god made me this way for a reason. I’m just going to do the best with what I have. I mean people ask me every once in a while ‘If I had the opportunity would I change having one leg?’ I say ‘No.’ This is how I am. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m proud of who I am and I’m just trying to make the best of it.”
You’re going out there for your final matchup for the title. Everything you’ve worked for is right in front of you. What are you thinking?
“I was terrified. I can remember I was waiting there ready to run out on the mat counting down from twenty seconds just knowing this was going to be on live television and as soon as the guy said twenty seconds my stomach just started to churn. I felt like I was about to throw up. I ran out there with the roar of the crowd and as soon as I stepped out on that stage it just felt like you know everything was just back to normal. Just like I trained for. Just like any other match. I was just pumped to go. It just seemed like everything happened so fast. When I got off the mat I couldn’t really remember what happened in the match, but it was a great night.”
What is next for you?
“Competition wise, wrestling, I’m done. People have asked me if I would like to try out for the Olympics: I don’t really see that as the next path in my life. I really want to focus on motivational speaking. I’ve been working with a professional coach on the side, who’s helping me develop my speech outlines to just help me in increasing my speaking skills. Now that wrestling is done that’s going to be my main focus. I just want to be able to turn around and kind of help people in the same way that…there’s some people in my life who have helped me to excel especially in wrestling, just in life to achieve things that people wouldn’t have thought possible or given me the chance to do. I feel like it’s my obligation to turn around and help people the same way.”