COMMERCE CITY — “For I know I am capable, I don’t care what’s probable, through blood, sweat and tears, I am unstoppable.”
The ending of this poem, written by Dan Clark, is the way former NCAA Division I National Champion wrestler Anthony Robles concludes every time he is asked to speak in front of a audience.
Robles told his story Oct. 7 in an event hosted by Adams District 14 at the Adams City High School Theatre. Superintendent Pat Sanchez and Board of Education President Robert Vashaw were amongst the staff that spoke before Robles shared his story.
“Our goal in presenting the speaker series is to show our students that they can do anything they want to do, be anything that they want to be, if they set goals and work hard,” Adams District 14 spokeswoman Maria VanderKolk said. “Anthony Robles made a wonderful statement about how everyone has something to wrestle with in life. Be it missing a limb, or poverty, or other issues, we know our students are inspired by that.
“We were so honored to have Mr. Robles spend time in our community.”
Robles battled adversity from the moment he was born. Doctors could not explain to Robles mother, Judy Robles, why he was born with only one leg. Judy, despite the potential challenges, raised Anthony to be a strong, independent man. Anytime he wanted to give up, Judy told him over and over against that God made him the way he is for a reason. He never understood that reason until he was inspired by his cousin to try out wrestling.
“I remember the day I came home after my first practice. I came home sore from being thrown around and with blood in my teeth,” Robles explained to his audience while adding he weighed only 90 pounds at the time. “My mom didn’t think it was a good idea for me to be in wrestling. But I told her that I loved it and wanted to continue.”
Judy supported him in his dream. The first year, he compiled a 5-8 record and finished last in the city championship.
“My first year was horrible. I was the worst wrestler in the city,” Robles admitted.
Despite it all, he continued to work and defeat all the odds. Eventually he finished his junior and senior years at Mesa High School undefeated and was a two-time state champion and a high school national vhampion.
Even with the success, few colleges looked at him. That still didn’t stop him. Inspired to attend and graduate from a Division I school, he enrolled at nearby Arizona State University. He made the team as a walk-on and was eventually made captain of his team the following year.
Battling more adversity — between family, getting ill and lacking confidence — he prevailed once again. He finished his college career as a three-time All-American and won the 2011 NCAA National Championships at 125 pounds.
Adams City head wrestling coach Tom Deaguero and his team were among many who attended this free event. He feels his team can really learn a lot from someone like Robles.
“I enjoyed listening to Anthony Robles’ story, and I consider him to be a hero and role model for our young wrestlers,” Deaguero said. “I hope my wrestlers, who may at times feel that the odds are against them and have doubts about their abilities to overcome obstacles, will be reminded that we can always find someone who has tougher, steeper, more difficult challenges and obstacles to deal with. The nature of wrestling is all about facing and overcoming adversity.”
An avid Oakland Raiders fan, Robles’ next challenges consist of helping with the production of his life story into a movie and swimming with sharks with Missy Franklin. He has also expressed interest in creating a foundation that supports single mothers. He was raised by a single parent.
He continues to debate whether he would like to compete for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, but whatever he decides to do, he will, “continue to wrestle the opponents life brings my way all the while believing that I am unstoppable.”
Contact Anthony Arroyo at