There are a countless number of athletes who encourage us with their bold strength and vigorous tenacity. Then, there are athletes who hearten us with their courage and capacity to succeed- even with all odds against them. The disabled athletes on this list are a testament to the fact that we are all stronger than we think we are- and we can all accomplish our dreams.
Here at HFR, we are particularly moved by those who sprint amidst paralysis, or fight amidst an amputated limb. These disabled athletes utilize every ounce of willpower to overcome their shortcomings in life- achieving their dreams despite any doctor’s doubt.
Some of these athletes were born with disabilities, and some were the victims of tragic accidents. Despite how these athletes became disabled, they all have one thing in common; the willpower to achieve their dreams, and show the world that we can too.
Here is our 2017 list of the Top 10 Fittest Disabled Athletes (Male):
Baxter Humby- 45
- Baxter Humby is a Canadian kickboxer, also known as “The One Armed Bandit.”
- He had his right hand amputated at birth- due to umbilical cord complications.
- Even so, this Canadian native’s accomplishments are grand.
- Humby began competing as a kickboxer at the ripe age of 17.
- Already an accomplished runner, he also competed for the Canadian Paralympic National Track Team- in 1992 and 1994.
- In 1996, Humby won the Canadian Super Welterweight Kickboxing Championship.
- Even today, Humby remains the only MMA star to have ever won a world title with one hand.
- He was also the WBC Super Welterweight National Champion in 2010.
- This fighter hasn’t confined his career to boxing- he also served as Tobey Maguire’s stunt double in Spider Man 3.
Jim Abbott- 49
- Major League Baseball pitcher, Jim Abbott, was born without a right hand.
- Despite his disability, He won a gold medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics.
- The Michigan native pitched a total of 888 strikeouts in his distinguished baseball career.
- Abbott was selected during the 1988 MLB draft season- after showing some of the best prospects in college baseball.
- Fast forward 1 year later, he was playing with the big boys- scoring a position in the California Angels’ rotation.
- During his time in the Major League, he set an 18-11 record with a 2.89 ERA, and threw a famous no-hitter against the Indians in 1993.
Oz Sanchez- 42
- Former Marine, Oscar ‘Oz’ Sanchez is an American Paralympic handcyclist and triathlete.
- California native, Oscar Sanchez, was a member of the Marine Corps for 6 honorable years.
- In 2001, he fell victim to a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed.
- Fast forward seven years later, he became a Paralympic athlete.
- This distinguished athlete represented the U.S. at the 2008 Games in Beijing
- He took home the gold medal in the para-cycling time trial, and a bronze in the road race.
- In the 2009 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships in Italy, Sanchez took home another gold medal!
- Three years later, Sanchez returned to the Paralympic Games in London, taking home another gold medal in the team relay.
Kyle Maynard- 31
- Kyle Maynard is an American speaker, author, and ESPY Award-winning mixed martial arts athlete.
- Maynard is famous for becoming the very first quadruple amputee to climb Mount Kilimanjaro without the help of prosthetics.
- The ESPYs named him the Best Male Athlete with a Disability, not once but twice.
- Maynard was honored by GNC- when the company dubbed him the World’s Strongest Teen.
- Born without any arms or legs, Maynard worked his magic to become a distinguished MMA fighter- fighting against non-disabled athletes.
- This motivational speaker shares his wisdom for the Washington Speaker’s Bureau.
- He also owns a crossfit gym in Suwanee, Georgia.
Jason Lester- 43
- Jason Lester is an endurance athlete, author, and ESPY Award winner.
- Lester is the first disabled athlete to have completed the Ultraman World Championships.
- The triathlete suffered a paralyzing car accident at the young age of 12.
- With no feeling in his right arm, Lester would’ve never dreamed that he’d become a world-class endurance sports athlete.
- Lester is distinguished as the first male triathlete to be named the ESPY award winner for Best Male Athlete with a Disability.
- The dignified runner, swimmer and cyclist is also the author of Running on Faith, an autobiography that journals his rise to stardom, and how his spirituality helped him get there.
Jim Maclaren- 54
- Jim Maclaren is a record-breaking Ironman triathlete and motivational speaker.
- After suffering an almost-fatal motorcycle accident, Maclaren had his left leg amputated, below the knee.
- The previous Yale University lacrosse and football player wasn’t intimidated by his accident, shortly taking up swimming and running.
- Maclaren later competed in the NYC Marathon and the Ironman triathlon.
- After his record breaking career, Maclaren suffered another accident that left him paralyzed.
- The brave triathlete turned this tragedy into a victory by becoming a motivational speaker and life coach.
- He now spends his life motivating people to make the most of their lives- regardless of setbacks.
Anthony Robles- 28
- Anthony Robles is a wrestler who was born with only one leg.
- Despite his disability, Robles won the 2011 NCAA wrestling championship in the 125-pound weight class.
- He spent his high school career mastering his craft- allowing him to later become the national wrestling champion.
- Although his first match- as a scrawny 90-lb freshman didn’t go so well, he practiced until he became the very best.
- The Arizona State University student remains an inspiration to underdogs across the globe.
- “I didn’t get into the sport for the attention. I wrestle because I love wrestling. But if I can help change somebody’s life for the better” -Anthony Robles.
Rocky Bleier- 71
- “It was the first time I’d ever been hit in my life. I didn’t know whether I could run, walk, crawl” -Rocky Bleier.
- Rocky Bleier is an American Football player and author who suffered a grenade injury during his time servicing the U.S. in the Vietnam War.
- Bleier was told by doctors that he’d never be able to play football again- but boy did he prove them wrong.
- Following his injury, he went on to become a 4x Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- The NFL star was the halfback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1968, and from 1971 to 1980.
- Today, Rocky spends his time authoring self-help book and speaking on financial management and retirement.
- He is also the co-host of The Rock on Retirement, a weekly Pittsburgh radio station.
Oscar Pistorius- 30
- Oscar Pistorius is a South African sprint runner who is surrounded by a controversy ridden scandal- following a 2016 murder conviction.
- The Olympic runner was recently sentenced to six years in prison.
- His sentencing was due to a murder he claimed was accidental- after mistaking his girlfriend as an intruder back in 2013.
- Before his murder conviction, Pistorius set many world records in the Paralympics- winning countless gold medals.
- Both of Pistorius’ legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old- due to fibular hemimelia.
- The gold medalist overcame his disability and surpassed his own expectations as a sprint runner- making him an inspiration around the world.
- The fallen hero left fans stunned after his conviction.
- Pistorius is sticking to his claim of never intending to hurt- and kill his former girlfriend- and according to his judge there is no evidence proving otherwise.
Team Hoyt (Dick Hoyt and Rick Hoyt)- 76 & 55
- The story of Dick and Rick Hoyt is a father-son inspiration about teamwork and the conquering of dreams.
- Dick Hoyt’s son, Rick, was born with cerebral palsy, due to umbilical cord complications.
- Despite an unpromising prognosis, Rick made it through both high school and college- graduating with a degree in special education.
- Dick and Rick participate in marathons together- with the help of teamwork.
- Team Hoyt engineered a special boat, bicycle and wheelchair that allows Dick to pull, carry and push his son during competitions.
- Team Hoyt won the 2013 Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYs.
- Today, at the ages of 76 and 55, Dick and Rick still compete in marathons together.
- The pair compete in 20-25 marathons annually.