Author: Anthony Robles

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Former ASU Sun Devil and NCAA wrestling champion Anthony Robles talks about his new book “UNSTOPPABLE- From Underdog to Undefeated: How I Became a Champion”.

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se Cardenas: Anthony Robles is a living example of determination and perseverance to never give up. He won the 2010-2011 NCAA individual wrestling championship, is a three-time all-American athlete, a hall Of famer, and the 2011 Recipient of the Jimmy V Award for perseverance at the Espy's. Joining me tonight is Anthony Robles. Welcome back to "Horizonte." You were on a little over a year ago. This is before the book but after your remarkable Victories and championship at the NCAA. You had been, though, on the Espy's already. And I kind of wanted to start there with the poem you read at the end of that presentation. We are going to roll it on the screen because it is also part of your book. We will bring that up on the screen now to have you -- I think this was at the end of your presentation.

Anthony Robles: This is my message. Every soul who comes to earth with a leg or two at birth must wrestle his opponents knowing it is not what is, it is what can be that measures worth. Make it hard, just make it possible, and through pain I'll not complain, my spirit is unconquerable, fearless I will face each foe -- through blood, sweat, and tears, I am unstoppable. Thank you.

Jose Cardenas: And that is the essence of the book.

Anthony Robles: It is. And really that was my main purpose of writing the book. Wanted to put all of my life challenges in a form where someone could read it and maybe if they are going through similar challenges it will help inspire them that they --

Jose Cardenas: You inspired quite a few people by the book itself. Condoleezza Rice, Ladamien Tomlinson, and an introduction by Jay Leno.

Anthony Robles: Such an amazing honor to have those people endorsing my book. Jay Leno --
Jose Cardenas: he introduced you.

Anthony Robles: He helped to settle me down a little bit. He said relax, have fun with it. We hit off a friendship. Amazing honor to have him right the forward in my book. So --

Jose Cardenas: We said the poem is the essence of the theme of the book. Another big part of the book is your mom. I mean, in many ways this is her story. And I know you -- the two of you are very close. There is some pictures that we have of you with her. Tell us about it.

Anthony Robles: My mom is very special to me. She had me when I was 16 years old. No idea I would be born missing my leg. For quite awhile she was a single parent. That is a tough situation to be in. A young mom, kid missing his leg.

Jose Cardenas: She still looks very young.

Anthony Robles: I get that a lot. She pass as my sister all of the time. A special lady, very self-less, and she always raised me to where I believe I can do anything I can set my mind to. I didn't think I had a missing limb an a handicap to me. I didn't think I was disabled.

Jose Cardenas: In the book, you talk about an incident very early in your life, her parents, your grandparents, thought she was not up to the job of taking care of a child because she didn't seem to fully appreciate what that meant and they offered to raise you, adopt you, and she said no.

Anthony Robles: I think that was really the wake-up call for my moms. When my grandparents, God bless them, offered to raise me. That is when my mom sat down, I'm a mom, it is time to be a mom. She jumped into it 100%. I was blessed with a great mom. My number one fan. My main support system. Just to have her there always encouraging me, never second-guessing me or causing me to second-guess myself, I couldn't ask for more.

Jose Cardenas: It is clear from the book, as difficult as some of the situations for you, they were pretty tough on her, too. How she felt when she would be out with you in public. You mentioned one incident, there is a wrestling match when you are very young and a woman in the stands laughing at you.

Anthony Robles: My mom talks about that. That is another interesting part of the book. I got to see and hear my mom's perspective about things we went through. She was very protective, and at the same time she knew that -- she needed to let me go out on my own and experience those times with heartache and failure because it would make me stronger. All along the way she was supporting me. You can make it through. You have to do it. You have to figure it out on your own but you can make it and I am here for you.

Jose Cardenas: Another part of the book, you discussed the efforts to give you a prosthetic leg, and how that didn't work out.

Anthony Robles: I just remember, I was about five years old, and the technology wasn't nearly what it is today. And so it was just a big heavy piece of wood. Whenever I put it on, I could barely move around and I hated it. Whenever my mom wasn't looking I would try to take it off and hide it and hope that she would forget. She kind of eventually left it up to me. I chose the crutches. It was better for me. Because of wrestling, it started to build my upper body for more my sport.

Jose Cardenas: Did it make you stand out more in school, you were the kid with only one leg?

Anthony Robles: It definitely did. I remember the sound that my crutches used to make, clicking noise. I was embarrassed by it. I tried to walk around real quiet. After awhile I didn't care anymore. This is who I was, I couldn't change it and I am going to be proud of who I am. Because of the positive surrounding at home, it made it that much easier. Not to say I didn't go through the tough times, teasing, and bullying, but I was strong because of my family and because of my mom.

Jose Cardenas: And you also insisted on really no special consideration. You talk in the book about racing on the crutches, running with the rest of the team. Going uphills, college wrestling coach said you didn't have to do it but you insisted on doing it anyway.

Anthony Robles: Absolutely. It was always a thing to where I wanted to show my teammates that I could do anything that they could do. I didn't want to take the easy way out and earn their respect. To do that I had to be sweating and bleeding alongside of them. We had to run a few miles with a 45 pound plate strapped to our back. Coach said I didn't have to. I wanted to show them I am there with you. I can do this. I can figure out a way. That was how I was raised. Just figure out a way to get thing done.

Jose Cardenas: So much of the become is about relationships. We have talked about your relationship with your mom. You had a difficult relationship with your stepdad.

Anthony Robles: I did. I love my stepdad and I know he loves me, too. A lot of struggles. Him coming and going into my life and my mom's life and just abandoning her. It was a tough time. It made me a stronger person. I know when I have my family what I don't want to do. I did learn things as well. I had a great mom, three little brothers and a sister and a high school coach who was a father figure to me as well.

Jose Cardenas: You had some great friends on the teams who really helped you develop as a person and as a wrestler.

Anthony Robles: Absolutely. A good friend of mine in high school, Chris, state champion, he was the first guy there helping me in my goal of becoming a champion. He treated me like a little brother and showed me how to work hard and how to get to that next level. We're still great friends today. We train together. I couldn't have gotten to college and won that championship without him.

Jose Cardenas: You talked a little bit about your high school coach. He sounds like such a unique individual. You mention in the book one of the things he did which was to tie his legs together so that he could have a sense for what it was like for you to wrestle and be able to teach you how to wrestle with just one leg.

Anthony Robles: Yeah, he was awesome. It was pretty neat because from day one when I walked into the wrestling room, he treated me like I was a state champion. I wasn't some poor kid missing his leg. He helped me believe in my abilities. You have your strengths. We have to figure out what those are and we will build a style to compliment that. He would do things like that, figure out how I wrestle -- we build something unique that people had never seen before and it worked to my advantage. He was a father figure than a coach. He would talk to me. How are you doing in school? We need to get you in college. This is what you need to be doing. I learned so much about life from him and I will be forever grateful.

Jose Cardenas: In terms of your wrestling technique, there is a lot of stuff in the book about different key crucial matches during your career, high school, college. Part of it was the development of hamstrings.

Anthony Robles: It was, for my style, he said you have to use your upper body. You have to be able to control guys and to do that you need good grip strength, good hand strength. He would design unique workouts for me to do. A tennis ball, squeezing it in each hand. Hang from a pull up guard for six minutes to build up the strength in my arms. Little things like that slowly started to improve my strength. I would rip newspapers and crumble them back up. It built me up and it worked for our style and now I actually got to the point where people feared my grip strength. Something that they couldn't get away from.

Jose Cardenas: You had people complaining about you're having just one leg and the upper body strength that you had as being an advantage to you. And I think there is a section in the book where you talk about Jim making fun of those people. Maybe you can recreate that scene.

Anthony Robles: Yeah Jim Rome--

Jose Cardenas: Talking about the sportscaster.

Anthony Robles: He was just saying how could a kid with one leg have an advantage? That doesn't make sense. He is missing a leg. He has one less limb, how could that be an advantage? It was funny, when I started wrestling, no one saw it as an advantage. They felt sorry for me, and didn't think I could compete with everybody else. As I started to progress, it seemed like a target was growing on my back, people were trying to find reasons to pick at me. It discouraged me but in a way I felt I was accomplishing my goal. I did not want to be the one-legged wrestler or the handicap wrestler, but I just wanted to be the best, the champion, and people were starting to see me as that and they were tying to pick at it.

Jose Cardenas: The book talks about triumphing in many instances over people who had beaten you before. And one of those, I think, was the -- ultimately the NCAA championship match where you came out on top.

Anthony Robles: And that was a really fulfilling match for me. My junior season, I was upset in the quarter finals. The guy who beat me went on to the finals and lost to the eventual national champion. I remember sitting there with tears in my eyes watching them wrestle each other, I should be there. That should be my title. I ripped the newspaper article out of the national champ and put it in my locker. I have to train to beat him today to get better and to have that opportunity to wrestle him and kind of get some payback and come out with this ring it was a perfect ending, a dream come true for me. Perfect ending for me.

Jose Cardenas: The book, the cover picture was taken by Randy Johnson, former star of the Diamondbacks and the Yankees. What led you to write the book?

Anthony Robles: Well, for me it was an amazing opportunity after I won nationals. I had gotten into motivational speaking, but when you are speaking, you only talk for about 45 minutes. I couldn't really share my whole life story and put it out there. So, the book was a great way for me -- my whole life story, things that I was uncomfortable, my weaknesses, times when I did fail and did fall down, and I wanted to put that out there so that people could see you don't have to have the perfect life. Things don't have to always be easy for you to get out on top in the end. You can't let the challenge become an excuse. I was hoping that by putting everything out there, it could help inspire someone, and if it changes one person's life for the better, that makes it all worth it.

Jose Cardenas: I understand the book came out in September and it is heading towards the best seller list.

Anthony Robles: It has been an amazing journey. 6 1/2 week book tour and it should be hitting some best seller lists soon.

Jose Cardenas: And a Movie is in the works.

Anthony Robles: It is in the works. Negotiating the final things. They keep asking me who I want it play myself, and I tell them Denzel. But they seem to think he is a little too old for me.

Jose Cardenas: He is too old. I'm sure he would admit it. Is your career as a wrestler over?

Anthony Robles: I'm not sure just yet. Focusing on my career and still training, definitely missing the competition. Looking at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil as a possibility, but I will wait until things settle down with the movie and things and make a decision then. I don't want to jump back in unless it is 100%.

Jose Cardenas: Congratulations on the book, good luck on the movie, and thank you for joining us on "Horizonte." Pleasure to have you here.

Anthony Robles: Thank you for having me.

Anthony Robles:Author;

Anthony Robles

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