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Anthony Robles: Mill’s Favorite Sportsman

April 7, 2011

Anthony Robles, a senior at Arizona State University, won the 125-pound title at the NCAA Wrestling Championships this past weekend — with one leg.  Robles was born without his right leg, but that didn’t stop him from following his dream of becoming a wrestler.

Robles started his wrestling career his freshman year of high school.  As one would expect, he struggled mightily that year.  However, he went on to win state high school championships as well as a national championship.  Despite his exceptional success in high school, Robles was not recruited by big-time wrestling programs and decided to stay near home and go to Arizona State.  There he became an All-American, won multiple conference titles, and finally the national championship he wanted so badly.

Robles is an inspiration to us all  — he defied the odds and became the best at his sport despite his disability.  I think it is safe to say that all of us are Anthony Robles fans, but there would probably not have been a bigger fan of his than J.S. Mill.  In Mill’s The Subjection of Women, he challenged the widely-held view of the time that women are inferior to men and can’t accomplish the same things as men because they are less intelligent and less physically able.  Mill argued that women should not be discouraged from trying things just because society tells them they can’t.  He believed that one can’t make generalizations about a group of people without prior evidence.  Since women never even tried some of the things men did, there was no way of knowing if women couldn’t do them as well.

Robles, although not  a woman, is disabled — a classification which women fit under during Mill’s time.  He is a living example as to why Mill believed that you can’t write anyone off and say that they can’t do something.  Robles tried to become a wrestler, but he ended up accomplishing much more than that.  He became a national champion, a hero, and an inspiration to all people, disabled or not.

Sources: Wall Street Journal Online, CNN

  1. kayla wan permalink
    April 7, 2011 5:10 PM

    It’s really impressive to have a true collegiate story which agrees on Mill’s theory.
    It efficiently delivers the message that so called “inability” characteristics do not define any specific qualification and capability in any other fields

  2. Chris J permalink
    April 7, 2011 8:30 PM

    It is always inspiring to see stories like this one or the one in the TED talk from class. I also noticed a parallel between the two. In the TED talk the woman brought up the possibility of augmentation through “disability”.

    This augmentation and ability to perform better due to a “disability” is present in Robles’ case. His missing leg lets him train harder than his opponents, gain more muscle, and still weigh into a lower weight class. His “disability” actually is an advantage in some ways, and he recognized that. He took advantage of his missing leg just like someone who is naturally fast may train hard to become a great sprinter.

    It is always thought provoking when people bring up overcoming a disability. Perhaps they did not so much overcome as capitalize and train a way that suits them best just like anyone else who attains greatness.

  3. Austin Spaulding permalink
    April 7, 2011 8:55 PM

    I find it so true that we see disabled people as lesser than we are. Many will joke and make fun of them, but they are no different from any other human being. This is a great comparison to Mills inferiority of women and a heartwarming story.

  4. Pierre Gerondeau permalink
    April 7, 2011 9:23 PM

    This was a really interesting and uplifting post, and it is good to see Mill’s ideas in everyday life. People with disabilities should not be treated any differently than people without disabilities, and they should not be counted out in competitions. It is inspirational to see Robles become a champion, even though he has only one leg. In a society where people without disabilities are thought of as stronger and superior most of the time, it is great to see Robles defeat “able-bodied” athletes. It sort of reminds me of the wheelchair athletes in marathons, even though they don’t compete against the distance runners. People might look down on them and say that they are not great athletes or strong enough to succeed because they are in a wheelchair, but in reality they are better conditioned and stronger than most able-bodied people.

  5. Brian Wandschneider permalink
    April 7, 2011 9:28 PM

    This is a good article and a great story. To win a wrestling match with one leg is amazing, given how important lower body strength is in the sport. It really goes to show that anyone can do anything if they put in the work and are given the opportunity. This is why everyone should be given a chance and no one should be written off. To block anyone from competition hurts the person, as well as the sport in general, because you never know what someone can achieve. That is why the NCAA tournament is so exciting.

  6. Zack Orsini permalink
    April 8, 2011 7:42 PM

    Robert Tepper,

    There’s another wrestler in the NCAA who has a similar situation, and he goes to the University of Michigan:

    Gabe went to my high school, and I must say that it was really cool to know him from a distance. Many people might lose a leg and decide to call it quits and to use the loss of a limb as an excuse to not work hard; Gabe was not like this at all. I think the fact that he was missing a leg inspired him to work harder and to achieve more. I don’t know him well enough to say for sure, but he might have been thinking something along the lines of, “All those people who think I can’t succeed, I’ll show them!”

  7. Ravi Shah permalink
    April 8, 2011 8:50 PM

    Its amazing, when i first saw this video I thought to myself, how is that possible? I found myself saying, he’s missing a leg. This means his upperbody is bigger, because he doesn’t have that extra weight in his leg. I thought, he has the biggest upper body of a 125 pound wrestler, thats why he wins. Thats UNFAIR. I overcame this thought and accepted that he wins because he is talented and worked hard. Its interesting though, that many people look at those with “disabilities” as feel bad for them. Then when they succeed, people make excuses for why they exhibit excellence. To me this correlates to what was talked about my poly sci class. Excellence does not have a face, and can belong to anyone. Videos like this challenge people to accept the fact that we need to define excellence, without putting a face to it.

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