Being born with only one leg didn’t stop Anthony Robles from achieving great heights and championships. He was introduced to the sport of wrestling when he was 14 years old and went on to become a state high school champion, national high school champion, three time All American while at Arizona State and Division 1 Wrestling Champion. Robles is also an author and motivational speaker, and will be sharing his story on Saturday, June 8th at Ridgeline High School.
“I was born missing my leg to a single mom who was 16 years old. We both had our challenges going through,” Robles said when he was a guest on 106.9 The Fan’s Full Court Press program. “That’s what I’m going to share with people. I wrestled not just on the mat but off the mat as well.
“Whatever you are wrestling with, whatever the challenges are, you can be unstoppable. That’s the message I want to get across. No matter what you face, you have to choose to be unstoppable and you can do it.”
Robles will be participating in a wrestling clinic at Ridgeline High School throughout the day, but will be speaking to the public at 6 p.m. in the high school’s auditorium. He says the message he has to share is for all people, not just wrestlers.
“Bullying is bigger than ever now. I feel like that youth age is hard to reach, but if I can change one individual’s life I’ve done my job,” Robles continued. “That’s my goal. Every time I have an event, every time I have a wrestling clinic, if I can reach somebody and even if they forget what I said but remember I had a positive impact on them, and they can remember something that helps them get through a speed bump in their life then I accomplished my goal.”
Robles was told from an early age by his mother never to use his disability as an excuse, but to figure it out. When he began wrestling as a young teenager, he finished last place his freshman year of high school and was getting discouraged.
“I just remember after that final tournament was over and being discouraged, thinking about my losses that season and all the people who doubted me. It was a turning point for me. I remember thinking to myself, ‘I can either continue to feel sorry for myself and listen to what other people say and their low expectations of me, or I can be unstoppable’ as I like to say.”
At that moment, he wrote “State Champion” on a sticky note and placed it where he could always see it. From there, he said he kept setting higher and higher goals and his success grew and grew.
Besides the national college wrestling championship, Robles also went on to compete at the Olympics. He was also recognized for his on-the-mat accomplishments by ESPN, winning the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and Best Male Athlete with a Disability at the ESPY Awards. After his wrestling career concluded, Robles was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012, inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 2017 and currently works as an ESPN and PAC 12 Network college wrestling expert and analyst. Robles has also published a book, titled Unstoppable.
“A lot of things I was uncomfortable saying I put in that book,” Robles explained. “I felt like it was my way of reaching those individuals like myself who struggle with challenges, who feel like they’re alone. I’ve been blessed. I’ve been honored with these opportunities and I’m trying to make the most of them.”
“It’s been an amazing ride and I’m trying to make the most of these opportunities,” he continued. “I really want to give back to the sport and give back to the youth that are coming up. During this time, there needs to be more positive role models. I’m trying to use this platform to be one of those role models.”
A movie about his life is in the works and will begin filming soon. Robles himself will get to appear in the movie, reenacting the wrestling scenes.
Even though Robles is from Arizona, he is certainly aware of the wrestling history in Utah and personally knows the Lofthouse brothers – who graduated from Mountain Crest High School – and what they are doing now to coach others at Utah Valley University.
“It’s one thing to be a good wrestler, it’s a whole other thing to be able to translate your own wrestling into coaching,” said Robles. “Those guys know it; they’re very knowledgeable. To be able to grow their team, to continue to bring the talent and develop it, is exciting. To watch them in the conference tournament, at the national tournament, they’re doing great things. That’s what we need…we want the west to continue to rise.”
Robles’ presentation on Saturday is free to the public and begins at 6 p.m. at Ridgeline High School.
AUDIO: Anthony Robles on 106.9 The Fan’s Full Court Press