Anthony Robles, born with one leg, captures NCAA wrestling title
On a weekend when several underdog basketball teams took the first steps toward becoming unlikely NCAA champions, Arizona State senior Anthony Robles beat them to it.
Robles, who was born without a right leg, won an NCAA wrestling title in the 125-pound weight class Saturday night, capping an undefeated season by knocking off defending champion Matt McDonough of Iowa, 7-1, in the final.
"I had a lot of butterflies going out there," Robles said after what he says was his final wrestling match. "I've dreamt about stepping on that stage a dozen times, and this whole year I've just been preparing for that moment.
"I was scared out there, but as soon as I hit that first takedown I sort of relaxed. I said, ‘OK, back to business. Same drill as usual, like every other match.' "
Robles started wrestling as a freshman in high school and went on to become a three-time Pac-10 champion who took fourth at the NCAAs as a sophomore and seventh as a junior. He claims his grip strength, from years of holding onto crutches, is his biggest advantage, although his tremendous upper-body strength (he is said to bench 305 pounds) surely doesn't hurt either.
"I didn't get into the sport for the attention," he said. "I wrestle because I love wrestling, but it inspires me when I get kids, even adults, who write me on Facebook or send me letters in the mail just saying that I've inspired them, and they look up to me, and they're motivated to do things that other people wouldn't have thought possible."
-- Chuck Schilken