Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration: “I wanted to fit in so badly”

wrestler,inspirational,inspiring,wrestling, sport

A goose bump story from Deadspin.  Anthony Robles was born poor and one-legged in Mesa, Arizona. Anthony never met his biological father.  He longed for acceptance from his stepfather who wouldn’t forgive him for the color of his skin.  He criticized his step-son mercilessly and physically abused his Mother in his presence.  Anthony was bullied at school and he chose wrestling to toughen up. He lost every match at first. Then he found the key… Opponents were baffled. Four years later he was a national champion. And now he planned to quit a sport just as he had come to dominate.

Whether you love, hate or are indifferent about sports or wrestling, this is one of the most powerful human interest stories that I’ve read. Some excerpts:

“The day Robles entered the world, doctors whisked him from the delivery room, to spare his mother, 16 years old and single, the shock of seeing her one-legged child. He was what’s known as a congenital amputee, and the cause of his condition remains unknown. When the doctors finally returned him to his mother, she looked her boy over carefully and predicted that the smooth declivity where his right leg should have been marked the end of her freedom forever.”

“Three years later, another doctor thought Robles would walk better with a prosthesis and fitted him with a heavy artificial leg. The boy promptly took it off when he got home and hid it behind a piece of furniture. At five, he shinnied 50 feet up a pole outside his house.”

“But if Robles was willful and assured by nature, a childhood of being stared at and taunted eventually saddled him with terrible self-consciousness. ‘I wanted to fit in so badly,’ he later said of his elementary and junior high school years. ‘For a while I tried to hide … to be camouflaged.’ But the bullies were not put off, and Robles gave up trying to disguise his differences.”

“A one-legged man would climb to the pinnacle of a sport that selects for such anatomical homogeneity that competitors of different weight classes frequently look like Russian nesting dolls of one another. What Robles accomplished that weekend in Philadelphia was unprecedented in his sport, perhaps in any sport. But what he planned to do afterward left everyone just as dumbstruck. Why was he walking away?”

“Wrestlers are known for their prodigious hand strength. Oklahoma alumnus Danny Hodge can still crush an apple in one hand at the age of 80. But Robles’s grip is fearsome even by wrestling standards. Opponents have rarely been able to pry it off with one hand, and only sometimes with two. Many have ended up surrendering to his hold and have focused instead on limiting the damage he could do with it.”

“Robles has been trying to solve the problems that life has been heaping on him since the moment he was born: a body that didn’t look right and the bullies who wouldn’t let him forget it, one father absent and another full of hate. Wrestling just happened to be an exquisitely efficient response to his dilemmas. It gave him, all at once, a sanctioned way of blowing off steam, an assessment of his abilities independent of other people’s appraisals, and a vehicle for working collaboratively, for a change, with other men.”

Read the entire article here at Deadspin: The One-Legged Wrestler Who Conquered His Sport Then Left It Behind.


  1. I just read the article – fascinating AND inspiring!


  2. Very good.


  3. I have seen interviews with him – he is incredibly poised, determined, hopeful and has purpose to spare. He’s an amazing, formidable spirit (and he’s got a smile that just lights up a room).


  4. Now that is inspiration! Thanks.


  5. Your weakness is your strength, Grasshopper… 🙂


  6. Reblogged this on Wholeheartedness and commented:
    Thanks for curating this great story, @davidkanigan…


  7. Tears in my eyes. What a man!


  8. Wonderfully inspiring….


  9. Beautiful, so very inspiring… Thanks!


  10. Where he got the strength of mind to overcome the bullying and abuse at such a young age, I don’t know. I wish it could be harnessed somehow for so many children who are bullied and abused. Thank you for posting this inspirational story, David.


  11. He is very well known here in Arizona. Amazing story and another example of eliminating the excuses.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: