*Arizona State wrestler Anthony Robles, who was born without a right leg, took the NCAA’s 125-pound title Saturday night with a 7-1 win over Iowa defending champion Matt McDonough.
The 22-year-old finished with a perfect senior season, 36-0, and his three-day performance at the NCAA wrestling tournament earned him the Outstanding Wrestler award. He received a standing ovation after his victory and then stood on the winner’s podium with his crutches, which sat and waited for him by the mat while he wrestled.
Robles got the only takedown in the first period of the match and worked a pair of tilts to secure five back points.
“I had a lot of butterflies going out there,” said Robles. “This year I think that was the biggest difference in my wrestling, was my mental game. Going into every match I was real relaxed, real calm. But before that, before this match, it was nothing but butterflies. I felt like I was going throw up, I was so scared I almost started crying. But it’s just the atmosphere. It’s the true athletes that are able to just overcome that.”
Robles’ story is even more remarkable considering how difficult it was for him to even get a scholarship. He didn’t start wrestling until age 14, and his weight class, 125-lbs., is the lightest in the NCAA. Because of his missing leg, he had to compete at weights even lower than that, and ASU offered a partial scholarship to the Mesa native only after he won a national title as a senior.
“I was a terrible wrestler, only about 90 pounds,” Robles told USA Today, “but my mom told me God made me for a reason, and I believe that reason was for wrestling.”
Now Robles is going out on top of the college wrestling world, and he plans to hang up his singlet and become a motivational speaker.
“I wrestle because I love wrestling,” Robles told USA Today. “But it inspires me when I get kids, even adults, who write me on Facebook or send me letters in the mail 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.”
Robles has won a total of 122 matches in his career and is eighth on Arizona State’s career list.
Below, ASU promo of Anthony Robles’ senior season