When one-legged NCAA national wrestling champion Anthony Robles accepted his Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2011 ESPYs, he offered some inspiring words for the viewers.
Every soul who comes to earth
With a leg or two at birth
Must wrestle his opponents knowing
It’s 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.
Thankfully, H.B. Lee Middle School (Portland, Ore.) teacher Eddie Schauffler was listening. So, when eighth-grader Elijah Mott had his leg amputated after doctors discovered a cancerous tumor in his knee, Schauffler showed his student YouTube clips of Robles, according to KOIN 6 News.
Born without his right leg, Robles began wrestling at age 14 and went from being “the worst wrestler in the city” to the best wrestler in the state, finishing 96-0 and winning a pair of state championships over his final two high school seasons at Mesa (Ariz.). Under-recruited, Robles walked on at Arizona State and became a three-time All-American, winning a 2011 national title.
His story led Mott to take up wrestling at age 14, too, and he’s quickly become a force at the middle school level, one leg and all. Having introduced Mott to Robles in the form of YouTube videos, Schauffler figured he’d do it for real now, arranging for Mott to meet his new idol.
“I was born missing a leg,” Robles told Mott on KOIN 6 News. “It’s all I knew. I can’t imagine you lost a leg. That takes so much more heart, and you’re an inspiration to me. … Whatever you want to chase, whether it’s wrestling or whatever, you got the heart.”