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Anthony Robles Essay

Arizona State senior Anthony Robles took home the title of national NCAA wrestling champion in the 125-pound weight class on Saturday, topping off a perfect season with a 7-1 win against Iowa defending champ Matt McDonough.

It's a high achievement for anyone, but Robles did it all with only one leg, reports USA Today.

Robles, who was born without a right leg, told USA Today that the ostensible handicap has almost become an advantage in the ring. "I have such a strong grip, and that's because of my crutches," he said.

Robles said that he has spent this past year working on his mental game, but that he was still extremely nervous before the championship match. "I had a lot of butterflies going out there," he told the New York Daily News. "I felt like I was going to throw up."

Although Robles has said that he wrestles for love of the game -- not for attention -- he did draw strength from fans' letters in the weeks prior to the match. "It inspires me when I get kids, even adults, who write me on Facebook and send me letters in the mail saying that I've inspired them," Robles told USA Today.

Robles told ESPN that this was his last wrestling match, and that he hopes to pursue a career in public speaking after he graduates in May.

Below, check out Fox News' highlights (obtained via the Wall Street Journal) of the championship game:

An absorbing account of achievement by a one-legged college athlete who beat the odds and won the 2010-2011 NCAA individual wrestling championship.

In 2012, Robles, who is now an inspirational speaker, was awarded the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. The author attributes much of his success to the encouragement he received from his mother, who was 16 and unmarried when he was born with one leg. “There is nothing wrong with you,” she told him constantly, a sentiment that has stuck with him. With assistance from Murphy (co-author: The Happiness of Pursuit: A Father's Courage, a Son's Love and Life's Steepest Climb, 2011, etc.), Robles describes his determination in the face of defeat, beginning in elementary school when he stood up to bullies. He played flag football but gravitated to wrestling where he could use his overall body strength more effectively. In middle school, he joined the wrestling team, and a supportive coach helped him develop an individual wrestling style (dropping “down low on the mat” where, he explains, he “was much more dangerous”). Despite his disability, with the help of crutches, he was able to keep up with the rigorously brutal training regimen that was required. Wrestling is a vigorous sport, requiring the exertion of almost every muscle in the body, and it demands mental as well as physical discipline in order to successfully counter an opponent's moves. Robles also describes his experiences with the politics of college athletics.

An inspiring, eye-opening introduction to a sport not to be confused with commercial wrestling.

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