Get to Know: Anthony Robles

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He was born with only one leg but went undefeated in wrestling and won the NCAA Wrestling Championship title during his senior season at Arizona State University. Get to know Anthony Robles and hear his inspiring story.

José Cárdenas: He was born with only one leg, but didn't let that stop him from achieving his goals. Anthony Robles was undefeated in wrestling in his senior year at ASU and he became the NCAA wrestling champion in March. In a moment, you will get to know Anthony Robles, but first, let's look at the moment when Anthony received the Jimmy V. perseverance award at this year's Espy awards.

Announcer: Some people spend their lives wishing for things they'll never get. Others focus on just doing amazing things, with whatever they have. This past March, Anthony Robles won a NCAA tournament title. And Anthony was born with only one leg and that shouldn't matter to you. It never mattered to him. Take a look.

Judy Robles: I remember that first time I saw Anthony wrestle. I went in the stands and my son threw down his crutches and hopped in the middle of the mat. And there's a scrawny little kid. That's my son. I was so proud of him. But this woman was laughing. And it broke my heart. I never wanted him to look at himself and say, hey, something is wrong with me because people keep looking at me and pointing. But if anyone who has known Anthony, it's that big smile and great personality, you know, and never letting anything get him down. Even if they ask: What happened to your leg? He just says I was born that way. With confidence, just says it. He made a point I wanted to go to a division one school. He worked hard. Two state titles but he wasn't heavily recruited. He knew he had something to prove once again. When he first started, it was like -- when he first started -- good for him, he's trying, got one leg. He's at a disadvantage. And then as he started winning, oh, he's got an advantage because he's got the upper body strength and people can't get low enough. No, the kid just figured out how to beat you guys.

Announcer: And it will be a tall task for Anthony Robles, the senior from Mesa, Arizona. Seven minutes away from a national title!

Judy Robles: I was scared for him. Knowing that it had Iowa, knowing that it had to be a former champion.

Announcer: Look at that! Beautiful technique by Robles.

Judy Robles: For anybody to give Anthony any credit, it had to be the best of the best.
Announcer: NCAA champion: Anthony Robles!

Judy Robles: Anthony overcome a lot of stuff, a lot of people not expecting him to do, people not expecting him to do anything and for him to take control of that match, that was his defining moment. The pride I feel for him is indescribable. He's been -- it's an honor to be Anthony's mom.
[Applause]

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, the recipient of this year's Jimmy V. award for perseverance, Anthony Robles!
[Applause] [Applause]

Anthony Robles: Thank you.

José Cárdenas: With me is Anthony Robles. Anthony, welcome to "Horizonte."
Anthony Robles: Thanks for having me.

José Cárdenas: The video clip we showed captured two very exciting emotional moments in your life. One being the appearance on the Espy awards and the other winning the national championship. Lets start there. Tell us how you get when you were waiting for the match to begin.

Anthony Robles: Butterflies in my stomach. Probably the scariest I'd been. And I remember being in the tunnel and they were about to kick me out run out on to the mat. 20,000 people there, I felt like I was going to throw up. I was trying to fight back tears. I was terrified basically and I remember jumping on the mat and looked up in the crowd and I knew where my family was sitting and before the tournament, they made up shirts and there was a silhouette of me, saying "unstoppable" and I looked up and my family all had that shirt. Just seeing that it relaxed me. I've got my family there, that's all I need.

José Cárdenas: That settled you down?

Anthony Robles: Yeah.

José Cárdenas: The match, was it tougher or not as tough? You were wrestling against the returning champion.

Anthony Robles: It was definitly tougher than I expected. The score may not show that. But because of the atmosphere well, 20,000 people watching the final stage, it was a lot of pressure, mentally and physically. Mentally, I knew there was only seven minutes left in my career and it came down to this one match and I trained for nothing less and knowing this was my last chance, I knew I couldn't walk away without the ring.

José Cárdenas: You spend an extra second or two on the mat. What were you thinking then?

Anthony Robles: I remember the count counting down. 10 seconds left. And as soon as it was done, I put my head down and felt relief, wow, did I it. It felt like I was living a dream. The greatest moment of my life and I could hear the crowd getting louder and louder, and a didn't get there alone. It was with the support of others, my family especially and pushed and helped and encouraged me. And it was something we could share and enjoy together. I was wrestling for them that night.

José Cárdenas: And months later, you shared the story and it was shared in a video at the Espy awards by ESPN. Before you walked out there and even before the video showed, you were talking to Jay Leno, what did you talk about?

Anthony Robles: It was exciting. We were talking about wrestling and the trophy. And Jay was a nice guy. He could tell I was nervous, giving the speech. 3,000 people in the audience, so he was talking to me to calm me down and let me relax and it was like I had practiced in my bathroom. So I went out there and had -- and I went out and I wanted the folks in the crowd to know how I felt and where I came from and it was important for me to develop a speech that could show that.

José Cárdenas: You say you were nervous but I saw the rest of that clip and you were very calm, cool, you delivered a motivational speech, which is what you're doing now. You work as a motivational speaker.

Anthony Robles: I am, I'm getting into motivational speaking and it did start that night at the Espies.

José Cárdenas: What did you say to the audience?

Anthony Robles: I recited a poem, "unstoppable." And I had been working with my Speech Coach Dan Clarke. It was a poem we wrote, unstoppable, and that captured my life story. We all wrestle to some extent and have our own handicaps, maybe not physical like me, but there's always something we're up against. And that's what the poem was about, being unstoppable.

José Cárdenas: And your comments and the clip captured the essence what you're talking about. But four minutes can't capture all of the obstacles you faced. What were some that weren't in there that you can share tonight?

Anthony Robles: A lot of people may not know about my family situation. We went through a rough time between the junior and senior year of college. Leading up to the national championship. My parents having marital troubles and my dad left the family and my mom, the bills were piling up and she didn't have a job and we lost the house and dug that time, I was going to quit -- during that time, I was going to quit wrestling and I had-to-on a scholarship and my mom has always been a strong woman and wanted me to stick with my dream of wrestling and wouldn't let me quit. She was the strong one, the rock in my life. And I draw my inspiration from my mom based on what she went through.

José Cárdenas: And that's clear from what you said and what the video showed. Who else was instrumental in making you the success you are.
Anthony Robles: My Arizona State coaches, my role model and my inspiration is high school coach Bobbie Williams and I started off as a 90-pound freshman, and he saw something in me and he really -- he got behind me and he was patient and worked with me until the very end and even now, I go back for advice and he's like a father figure to me and he saw something where no one else did.

José Cárdenas: And your mom talked about the fact people had low expectations of you, when we were off camera, you said the same. How does that serve as motivation for to you accomplish what you have?

Anthony Robles: I think it was a huge motivation for me, just to keep going forward. I knew they didn't expect much from me. Even though I was undefeated, wrestling the national championship. Most people thought I was going to lose and no one really expected me to come out of the national championship. No way he's going to do it. For me, I felt like being on that stage, god put me there to show anything is possible. There's nothing you can't overcome and there's a lot of people who have the negativity who might try and bring you down, doesn't have to. And I felt like I was wrestling for more than just the trophy. I was wrestling for my family and all of those people watching, to show them, you can get your dreams.

José Cárdenas: One major new development -- you have a new prosthetic.

Anthony Robles: I do, I now have a prosthetic. Thanks to the Louis Vitto's foundation.

José Cárdenas: We've got a picture of you on the screen using it.

Anthony Robles: That was my first step, actually, there. I'm doing pretty well. Gone on to walking with a cane. They said I'm a few months ahead of schedule. But I plan on keeping ahead. And I want to be running in marathons eventually and see how long it takes me.

José Cárdenas: Anthony, we've got probably 30 seconds left. What are you doing now in your motivational speaking?

Anthony Robles: My motivational speaking, I'm not subject to one audience; I speak to companies and high schools and universities and even halfway houses. I want it reach as many as I can to share with them you can be unstoppable. That's my word I like to use. Unstoppable. Wrestling with your opponents and not letting anything hold you back.

José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us.

Anthony Robles: Thank you for having me.

José Cárdenas: That's it for us tonight. From all of us here after the "Horizonte," I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

Anthony Robles:NCAA Wrestling Champion;

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