Future WWE Superstar?
This Sunday at Judgment Day, Bobby Lashley won't be the only one in the house with an impressive amateur wrestling background.
Introducing Anthony Robles. Born with just one leg, Anthony is an amazing high school amateur wrestler whose career has made him an inspiration to many. In fact, his story even touched Gerald Brisco, WWE Executive Director of Talent Relations,
who invited him to this Sunday's Judgment Day pay-per-view, which will be held in his home state, Arizona.
"I wanted to congratulate him on what he accomplished," Brisco told WWE.com. "I'm a former amateur wrestler (Brisco wrestled for Oklahoma State on the national championship team) and I helped recruit a lot of WWE talent from the college ranks. I follow amateur wrestling closely and I'm the assistant wrestling coach here in Tampa at the high school. So when I see accomplishments like that I try to reach out and congratulate the kids and everything."
The Mesa high school senior just recently capped off an amazing high school amateur wrestling career by winning the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) national title at 112 lbs., with a 9-1 victory in the finals, dominating a field of state champions. As a junior, Robles placed second in the NHSCA national championship for his class. Anthony is the first disabled wrestler to win a title at the NHSCA national championships. While he may be viewed as disabled, he certainly doesn't think of himself that way. "I think God gave me a gift by only giving me one leg" said Robles after winning his national title. The win finished off a perfect 53-0 senior season for him.
His four year high school career record consists of an impressive 131 wins and only 15 losses. Robles has won two Arizona state titles, was undefeated in his junior year, and named Arizona High School Male Athlete of the year by the Arizona Republic, the largest newspaper in the state.
Brisco is looking forward to meeting this accomplished young athlete, Sunday at Judgment Day. "What a spectacular and courageous young man. Being a former amateur wrestler, I know what a challenge it is wrestling in school. It's the roughest sport out there, as far as the dedication and the sacrifices you make to become a champion. And to become a champion in the state of Arizona where the wrestling is tremendously tough and highly respected, he had to work his butt off. Being under the handicap that he is, it's a remarkable accomplishment, he's got to be a strong willed young man. I personally can't wait to shake his hand and tell him how proud I am of him," said Brisco.
Anthony trains for hours a day and drills techniques hundreds of times. His dedication and efforts have not been in vain, Robles is 45 for 48 on first takedowns this season. The Mesa Arizona champ's signature techniques are his two best, the cradle, and the ball and chain. Anthony's next challenge will be faced at the collegiate level as he now entertains offers from various wrestling powerhouse schools. Anthony has received scholarship offers from the Division I wrestling powers, Arizona State and Drexel, as well as Division II power, Western State College of Colorado. He is now training to move from the 112lbs. weight class he wrestled in during high school to 125lbs. for college.
Growing up he watched WWE all the time and there was actually a point when he wanted to become a WWE Superstar. But right now, he is focusing on a college wrestling career. After he gets his degree, he will be looking at other options.
Anthony started wrestling because his older cousin wrestled and he used to teach him moves when they were growing up. His cousin finally talked him into trying it and he fell in love with the sport. "It takes a lot of hard work to succeed in wrestling, and I like that about this sport," he said.
Anthony enjoys amateur wrestling and WWE, because they both require hard work, dedication, and time, and neither one is easy to do. He mentioned that lot of the moves for WWE are refined from amateur wrestling, so he can identify. According to Robles, a takedown turns into a piledriver real quick. Or a front headlock becomes a suplex.
A perfect example of hard work and dedication for Robles is Kurt Angle. Robles admires Angle the most because he won an Olympic gold medal in wrestling, even with a broken neck. "Kurt is one of the greatest wrestlers in American history. He has overcome a lot in his career," he said, obviously being able to identify. Other Superstars he enjoys watching are former amateur wrestling notables, Bobby Lashley, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. His all-time favorite Superstar though, is Randy the Macho Man Savage. "He had a flair that just got you involved with all of his matches. He made you want to watch him," he said.
After a grueling season and high school wrestling career Anthony Robles is looking forward to relaxing and enjoying himself at Judgment Day, specifically he is looking forward to the Kurt Angle vs. Mark Henry match because they are two great athletes that have not only been successful in WWE wrestling but also in other sports. And that is what got them to where they are - with Kurt Angle being an Olympic gold medalist and Mark Henry being an Olympic weightlifter.
While his high school wrestling career is over, the accolades may still continue. There are whisperings that he may be nominated for ESPN's ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) award for Best Male Athlete with a Disability. "I consider it a great honor to even possibly be nominated. I never expected my wrestling career would be so successful when I first started. I believe God blessed me with a talent to wrestle and even though others see being born with one leg as a bad thing I consider it an advantage, especially in wrestling," said Robles.
Robles' successes help bring main stream attention to amateur wrestling, which is often overlooked by sports fans. While this may be the case for many people, it certainly isn't for WWE.
WWE has been keeping a well trained eye on the amateur wrestling ranks for a while now and is a staunch supporter of it. When asked to comment on the relationship between the two, Gerald Brisco had this to say, "Mr. McMahon told me these guys are athletes, go out and get me some athletes. The Chairman is aware of all these kids' accomplishments; we just wish we could find more of them, to fit the profile that we have. Big guys, with personality- they're few and far between, but there are some great athletes out there and it's up to us as instructors to teach them all the other aspects of the business. We're supportive, we're reaching out, we have been for the past 5-6 years, we hope to do it more and we hope to start doing it internationally."
It has become a give-and-take relationship says Brisco, "I think amateur wrestling is having a great impact on WWE. I travel around the country, going to amateur meets, and National Wrestling tournaments. I know a lot of coaches, and the old phrase that we were out to kill amateur wrestling is completely dead. These coaches now respect what we do, and with the likes of Angle, Brock Lesnar, Lashley, Haas and Benjamin, these guys see that they're getting opportunities that they wouldn't have gotten in any other form. They are glad to see that we have opened ourselves up to amateur wrestling and we're pursuing them."
Before Robles settles in at college on moving day, he's got another day to look forward to, and that's Judgment Day. Once both of those days come and pass, who knows what the future will hold for this amazing athlete?