Disabled Collegiate All-American

For an inspirational story this week, one needs to look no farther than Arizona State University Wrestler Anthony Robles:

Arizona State sophomore Anthony Robles, born with one leg, fulfilled a dream Friday by becoming an All-American wrestler. He will have to wait until next season to continue his quest for an NCAA Division I individual championship.

Robles was beaten 5-2 Friday night by top-seeded and unbeaten Paul Donahoe of Edinboro (Pa.) University in the semifinals of the NCAA championships in St. Louis.

Robles, who came into the tournament as the 12th seed, remained in contention for third place.

"I expected to win, but props to my opponent. He just came out on top. … I brought my A-game, and so did he. He just came out on top," added Robles, cheered by the crowd as he hopped off the mat after his defeat

Robles, now 28-7 on the season, earned his way to the semifinals by winning three matches, two of them against higher-seeded wrestlers.

With a quarterfinal victory, Robles became an All-American. That status goes to the top eight finishers among 33 entrants in each weight division. Robles came one victory short of making All-American last season. His quarterfinal win Friday assured him no worse than sixth place this year.

Robles, who won two Arizona state titles as a high school wrestler, was born without a right leg from the pelvis down.

He uses crutches off the mat. For the start of each match, he hops to the center of the mat and starts in the standup position. When the whistle blows, he but immediately drops to the mat and uses his left knee and arms to maneuver and balance himself…
Looking beyond the praise that the guy rightfully deserves, I wondered if Robles’ physical status could actual work to his advantage while on the mat:

1) Psychologically—Opponents consciously or sub-consciously aware of his appearance don’t pursue his leg initially and/or as aggressively as they would another wrestler.

2) Physically—When an opponent is grappling on the floor with Robles, they by nature are likely to reach for or otherwise try to account for a leg that is not there.

I posed these thoughts to my little league football teammate and former NCAA Division I wrestler. He agreed that his balance would be incredible, and that there would be less for an opponent to hold on to.

In contrast, he sees being an underdog as more of an advantage--as the guys with low rankings have nothing to lose and can aggressively take risks against the more cautious seeded wrestlers.

Whatever the case, Robles shows that through dedication and believing in one’s self, anything is possible.


copswife said...

Wow. Good for him!

J. J. in Phila said...

Very good. The perception issue might be the big issue as well.

I've indicated that I'm disabled. It is a lower back condition brought on by a birth defect (it's gotten work as I age). Aside from limping and using a cane; I wear a large bulky back brace. I also worked at one of the Phila Welfare offices for a number of years.

Many times there, I would be stopped by new security people, simply because they assumed that anyone limping, using a cane and wearing a back brace couldn't possibly be working there. :)

Slamdunk said...

Wow JJ I bet that got old fast.

J. J. in Phila said...

Actually, I have a fairly good sense of humor, and generally would make a joke of it.

One the funnier times was a a guard apologized to a fellow worker (who was junior to me) for not being able to stop me from entering his booth. I walked in the next day holding up two pieces of ID. :) I probably embarrassed the the poor security guard to death.