When it comes to extraordinary stories of overcoming tough hurdles and struggles, we will never hear or read enough of them. It seems the longer we live, the more we hear stories of others that move us to tears, inspire us or make us appreciative of the life that we have right now. So is the story of Zion Clark, the 21-year-old African-American wrestler and university student born without legs.
Zion Clark was born with a rare medical condition known as caudal regression syndrome, a condition which left him without legs. But the determined young man, popularly known for the term ‘No excuses’- tattoed across his back- not only managed to live without legs but also grew up to be a renowned wrestler.
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He was born in Columbus, Ohio and at birth, Zion was given up for adoption spending a more significant part of his life moving from one foster home and school to the other. The 21-year-old does not enjoy talking about his private life and the many years he .spent moving from foster home to foster home and school to school.
Zion picked up a habit of wrestling at the age of two and spent most of his free time play wrestling. While in grade two, he was encouraged by his Arts teacher who was also a wrestling coach to pick up the sports seriously. Zion took the advice of his teacher and started wrestling until high school.
While attending Massillon Washington High School in northeast Ohio, Zion signed up for the school’s wrestling team and qualified to be a member. He lost all his games in his junior year; the determined young man trained harder and made it to the semi-finals in the championships in his senior year. Despite losing his match, Zion gained nationwide recognition and finished high school with a good wrestling record to his name.
In 2015, Zion was adopted by Kimberli Hawkins, a mother of two who had an instant connection with Zion after she met him. Since then, the Hawkins household has provided love and stability for Zion as he strives to do amazing things with his life.
Zion was later approached by a Paralympics official who encouraged him to try wheelchair racing. With the same winning spirit, he qualified for the Paralympic Nationals at UCLA in California where he competed using a specially designed wheelchair. Zion went on to become Ohio’s fastest runner and won the 2016 100-meter and 400-meter state titles. He also placed third in the 800-meter race.
Currently, Zion is a Business Management student at Kent State University in Tuscarawas, New Philadelphia where he wrestles for the school’s wrestling team. He plays the drums at church and video games at home with his best friend.
He is also training to be a world-class Olympian with his eyes on the 2020 Tokyo world Olympic games.
In one of his many interviews , Zion told Times Reporter that “I don’t believe in excuses–there is no excuse to do anything good or bad, I believe we do what we want to do, and instead of making excuses for it, I focus on correcting the bad decisions and building upon the good ones.”
He went onto say that he does not like being pitied for his condition, explaining that “I just want them to quit feeling that pity for me, I can’t stand that. I don’t know why, but it just makes something start churning in the back of my head. I would think that they would know that I’m obviously moving around probably more than the people around me. I don’t know why they’re like, ‘Oh, I feel sorry for you.’ Don’t.”
On August 10, 2018, Netflix released a short film-documentary on Zion Clark and his journey so far. Zion Clark is an athlete with a difference to look out for and an inspiration to many.
There are definitely no excuses to why you can’t achieve what you want to do in this life. So what are you waiting for?