... And now he wants to be a motivational speaker. We need more young men like Anthony in our world.
By Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY
Arizona State's Anthony Robles hopped off the mat at the NCAA wrestling tournament after a perfect season.
Born with one leg, Robles took the 125-pound title Saturday night with a 7-1 win over defending champion Matt McDonough of Iowa. Robles' three-day performance here earned him the Outstanding Wrestler award.
For Robles, it was the finish to a 36-0 senior season and a journey begun when he took up wrestling as a high school freshman in Mesa, Ariz. He was anything but a dominator at the start.
"I was a terrible wrestler, only about 90 pounds, but my mom told me God made me for a reason, and I believe that reason was for wrestling," says Robles, who was given a standing ovation on the podium by a sellout crowd of 17,687 at the Wells Fargo Center.
The finals were held on a mat rolled out on an elevated platform on the floor of the arena. Before his match, Robles moved briskly up the platform stairs on his crutches. Then he placed the crutches down near his coaches' seats and hopped to center mat.
He took control in the first period, jumping out to a 7-0 lead with a two-point takedown and two turns that exposed McDonough's shoulders to the mat for five more points. Robles uses his gripping power on those turns.
"My tilting is due because I have such a strong grip, and that's because of my crutches," he said.
Robles said that a few weeks ago he took inspiration from re-reading letters he had received from an elementary school in Georgia.
"I wrestle because I love wrestling," he said. "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."