The night, was the 2013 Fellowship of Christian Athletes Banquet for Central Iowa. It's a night I've attended many times, but none with the effect I was left with on this particular evening. If you don't know of Anthony Robles, you're probably not alone. He's not what you'd call a household name. At least not yet. He's a former NCAA wrestler who in his final season won the 125-pound weight class while wrestling for the Arizona State Sun Devils. That fact alone is not so unusual, but given that he only had one leg is. In truth, that's his story....the past, present and future of what he encounters each and every day.
|If ever a mother (Judy Robles) could have said, "I told you so"|
He's never met his real father. In fact, he didn't know much about him at all until he needed to add that portion of his life to the book he's written, "Unstoppable-from Underdog to Undefeated". His step-father,who had served as a father figure since he was four, left the family.....walked away from Anthony's mother and three other siblings because he could no longer handle the financial pressures. Strange considering his step-father was a pastor at a local church in Mesa, Arizona. Nonetheless, the remainder of Robles family leaned on their faith. Somehow, Judy reasoned...."you stay in school and we'll be alright".
It was around this time, the sophomore year of Anthony's career, that there were also changes in his mind-set. He became more focused......his prayer life became deeper and he depended on his God for strength......and he also kept thinking about his mother's message...."God made you this way for a reason". Weeks later, Robles placed fourth in the NCAA Wrestling Tournament. The next season, he enjoyed a 32-4 campaign, but finished seventh at the NCAA's. There was but one year left.
In the 2010-11 season Robles enjoyed his achievements, going undefeated through the regular season and right up to the final match against Iowa's Matt McDonough, the defending champion at 125 pounds. Scared....but determined.....and relieved to see his family in the arena....Robles wrestled "the match of his life", winning 7-1. He had, in many respects, gotten his glory. Hours later when the meet was wrapping up, he grabbed further accolades by being named "Outstanding Wrestler". Later would come other forms of recognition through the NFL Hispanic Leadership Award and the Jimmy V Perseverance Award.
Today, Robles is working on a movie deal, serves as an analyst on ESPN wrestling coverage and.....is on the motivational speakers circuit.
To me, what a crowd of some 400 saw Monday night had much to do with humbleness. Truth is, it could have been an evening where disabilities took center stage. But they didn't.....and after the initial walk to the podium, the two crutches that were positioned under Robles' armpits seemed as natural as a stool. That's how much he held the interest of the crowd.
Yes, Judy Robles, God did make your little Anthony for a reason. Just like he has for each and every one of us. It's our path......much like the one Anthony painted of his Monday night, that we need to find.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance"-James 1:2
****The evening ended with a poem Anthony read after receiving the Jimmy V Perseverance Honor which he shared so graciously...it goes like this:
Every soul who comes to earth with a
leg or two at birth must wrestle his
opponents knowing its not what is, but
what can be, that measures worth. Make it
hard, just make it possible and through pain,
I won't complain. My Spirit is unconquerable.
Fearless I will face each foe for I know I am capable.
I don't care what's probable, through blood, sweat
and tears, I am unstoppable"---Anthony Robles.