ASU's Robles A Source Of Inspiration
by Ryan Reiswig
During a time when the country is in the midst of one of the worst economic crises in American history, there is more than enough negativity to go around.
People are unemployed in record numbers, jobs are being lost by the minute, and people's dreams have become seemingly unattainable.
For such people who find themselves in one of the aforementioned situations and need a source of inspiration, they need to know the story of a certain two-time All-American wrestler currently studying at Arizona State University.
He's already appeared on many national television programs like Jimmy Kimmel Live, ESPN's First Take, CBS's The Early Show, and the Montel Williams show.
Meet Anthony Robles, whose national recognition goes far beyond his accolades earned from his accomplishments on the wrestling mat. Born with only one leg, Robles has become a beacon of inspiration.
The senior's collegiate wrestling career will come to a close on Sunday, when the Sun Devils host Cal Poly on Senior Day. Robles will continue his remarkable story, and hopes to become not only a three-time All-American, but also a national champion.
"I'm not going to be satisfied with being a three-time All-American," says Robles. "I really want to be a national champion this year."
Early on, wrestling wasn't the first sport to catch his eye. Growing up a fan of the Oakland Raiders, Robles was a big football fan. However, physical limitations not pertaining to having one leg stood in his way.
"I kinda learned real quick that I was too small to compete in football," says Robles, a native of La Mirada, Calif. "That's when I decided to try out wrestling and found that's the sport for me."
It wasn't until his freshman year at Mesa High School in Mesa, Ariz., that Robles tested his skills for the first time on the mat. His cousin was on the wrestling team at the time, and Robles started going to practices with him. He watched his cousin's practices, and he fell in love with the sport. Once he started wrestling, he had plenty of support to encourage him.
"My family has always been supportive of whatever I do. They were behind me one-hundred percent," says Robles. "My mom actually has been to every single one of my matches in high school and all my college matches at home; she's even been able to travel to a couple of away matches."
While Robles found support on the home-front in the beginning of his wrestling career, there were plenty of doubters as well.
"Not a lot of people gave me credit when I first started because I wasn't very good," remembers Robles. "I took last in my city and I was underweight. I weighed 90 pounds wrestling in the 103 [pound weight class]. Fortunately enough my family was behind me and I had it in my mind already that I wanted to be the best wrestler I could be."
Robles certainly stayed true to that mindset, winning the Arizona State Championship in both his junior and senior seasons in high school. Following high school, Robles wanted to be close to his family who had been so supportive and became a Sun Devil. He also kept his sights on being one of the best in his craft.
"ASU just has a great history of wrestling," says Robles, who was one victory short of becoming an All-American in his first year at ASU as a redshirt freshman. "From the elite wrestlers that've come out of here, I just wanted to say I was part of that elite group."
If you talk to opposing players and coaches, more than likely they'd say Robles is already part of that elite group of ASU wrestlers.
"Number one, I can't wait till he graduates," Boise State head coach Greg Randall says admirably, looking forward to the day his Broncos no longer face Robles. "What a remarkable young man that kid is. Every time he wrestles, I just love to watch him. He's definitely a role model in this room, because everyone just loves Anthony Robles."
To get to the level he is at today, Robles had to overcome the challenges that wrestling with one leg presents. Balance, first and foremost, was the hardest part.
"Wrestling is all about having good balance and being able to adjust to certain positions and situations," explains Robles. "It really took me awhile to figure that [balance] out, because I'm a little different. But it really comes down to your style and being able to find what works for you."
While there are disadvantages Robles may experience wrestling with one leg, he mentions the need to identify what you do well and use that to your advantage. One advantage he has is his big, strong upper body.
"What he does, he's very, very good at," says Randall. "If you let him get your wrists, the match could be over real fast. He's extremely strong. He gets ahold of you, and the match could be over."
Some may think Robles trains differently than other athletes who have both their legs. But Robles has attained his physical prowess by doing the same workouts his teammates go through.
"I pretty much do everything that my teammates do," says Robles. "They run, I'll be running right there with them. There's nothing that I can't do that they do."
As a wrestler who, at the end of this season, could very well be a three-time All-American and national champion, continuing his career and taking it to the next level seems like a no-brainer. For Robles, however, this isn't the case.
"I've had a good career thus far and after this [season], I can walk away happy and satisfied with how it's gone so far," says Robles. "I think I'm going to switch gears and go into a different direction, I really want to get into motivational speaking."
As someone who is as self-motivated and astoundingly positive as Robles, it's not hard to imagine him becoming a successful motivational speaker. Just as he told himself while embarking on his remarkable wrestling journey, he has the same message for anyone currently harboring a disability.
"Follow your dreams," Robles says. "Whatever you set your mind to, just go after it. Don't let the obstacles stand in your way. Stay focused on that goal and look beyond the obstacles."