Anthony Robles, an NCAA national wrestling champion who was born without a right leg, accepted the Academy’s Juan Antonio Samaranch IOC President’s Disabled Athlete Award from Academy Board of Trustee Chairman Robert C. Campbell III on Thursday during The Artist and The Athlete Tribute.
Arizona State University wrestler Anthony Robles, who was born without a right leg, received the United States Sport Academy’s 2011 Juan Antonio Samaranch IOC President’s Disabled Athlete Award.
Robles, who earned the award for winning the NCAA 125-pound men’s wrestling title in March, accepted the honor during the Academy’s The Artist & The Athlete Tribute on Thursday, Nov. 10. Robles was representing the athlete in the ceremony.
“I accept this honor on behalf of my mom,” Robles said in front of about 200 onlookers at the event at the Academy’s Daphne, Ala., campus. “She taught me that there is no such thing as a disability. She would tell me to do what you can with what you have and God will do the rest. It is because of her that I am who I am today. Thanks for honoring me and my family.”
The 23-year-old Robles capped his senior season and wrestling career undefeated at 36-0 and won the NCAA championship by defeating, 7-1, the defending national champion Matt McDonough of Iowa. He was voted the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler. Robles now travels the country teaching wrestling clinics to youth and giving motivational talks.
During his visit to the area, Robles spoke Thursday morning to more than 600 high school students at Daphne High School about how to overcome their perceived obstacles and be “unstoppable.” Robles received a standing ovation at the end of his talk, which Principal Meredith Foster reported was the first one ever given to a guest speaker at the school’s weekly presentations.
Robles relayed to the students how even though he was a two-time Arizona wrestling champion at Mesa High School, no colleges offered him a scholarship. They didn’t believe he could compete at the collegiate level with just one leg and at his small size, Robles said.
“I walked on at Arizona State University and the first thing I told them was that I was happy to be a Sun Devil and ‘I’m here to win my national title,’” he said. “Don’t let negative things hold you back. Focus on the things you can do.”
Robles refused to let having one leg be a disadvantage during his college career. He ended up being a three-time All-American. At ASU, Robles placed fourth in the NCAA tournament as a sophomore and seventh as a junior. He also earned his degree, graduating in May with a bachelor’s in business communications.
He has a book being released by the summer of 2012 by Gotham Books and there are talks underway to do a movie about his life. Robles also recently became a Nike Athlete.
The Academy’s Samaranch Disabled Athlete Award is presented annually to the physically or mentally challenged athlete who displays courage, desire, and athletic ability in the face of adversity to achieve the goals set forth in the athlete’s particular arena of competition.
“So many people helped me throughout my life,” Robles said. “I have new goals in life now and one of them is to help as many young people as I can become unstoppable.”