Credit: CNN

Zion Clark, born without legs, has become a wrestler, MMA fighter, and aspires to compete in the Olympics

Living by the motto “You don’t need legs to leave your footprint on this planet,” Zion Clark, an American born with a rare condition called Caudal Regression Syndrome, has consistently defied the odds.

Despite facing challenges from birth due to the absence of legs, the 26-year-old has achieved remarkable feats, including setting three Guinness World Records, winning in his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut, and becoming an inspiration to millions globally.

“I just like to enjoy myself,” Clark shared with CNN Sport, revealing the motivation behind his continuous efforts to push his limits.

He emphasized that many people find themselves confined by the idea of having to work a 9-to-5 job every day. However, Clark believes that once individuals discover something that truly brings them happiness, there are limitless possibilities.

His Early life

Credit: CNN

Clark faced significant challenges early in life. His biological mother gave him up for adoption at birth, and he endured years of moving between foster homes, enduring both mental and physical abuse. This tumultuous childhood led Clark to contemplate suicide. At the age of 16, he finally found a loving family that provided the support for him to begin rebuilding his life.

Despite his difficult past, Clark prefers not to dwell on it. In his interview with CNN, the athlete expressed reluctance to spend time reflecting on the past and instead emphasized discussing how he successfully turned his life around.

He asserts that it was through engaging in sports, particularly wrestling, that he began to understand and confront the challenges of life.

The ancient athletic activity instilled in him a sense of discipline, expanded his social connections, and instilled a feeling of self-value as he adeptly navigated the world without relying on prosthetic legs, which he found uncomfortable.

Wrestling served as a catalyst for Clark to embrace fitness, resulting in a significant transformation of his physique. Following years of dedicated training, he evolved into a formidable presence on the wrestling mat, consistently triumphing over fully abled opponents.

During his final year in high school, Clark concluded the season with a record of 33 wins and 15 losses, narrowly missing the opportunity to compete in the Ohio High School State Wrestling Championships.

He proceeded to compete at the collegiate level with Kent State, exhibiting continuous improvement and increasing strength each year. Once he managed to bring his opponent down to the mat, very few could devise a way to escape.

Clark expressed a strong belief in the adage that suggests wrestling makes everything else in life seem easier. According to him, it is a sport that welcomes everyone, as anyone can join and find success.

While it demands considerable effort and time, Clark emphasizes that if one can discover peace and joy in participating in a combat sport like wrestling, there are limitless possibilities for achievement.

Dreams of Paris 2024

Clark’s ambitions extended far beyond wrestling success, prompting him to seek new challenges in various arenas.

In his pursuit of fresh athletic endeavors, he ventured into wheelchair racing and embraced rigorous training in the gym.

Fearlessly aiming high, Clark committed his life to representing his country on both the Olympic and Paralympic stages, with dreams of competing in wrestling and wheelchair racing at events like Paris 2024.

Maintaining a relentless training regimen, he holds onto the hope of making his Paris 2024 dream a reality.

In addition to his Olympic and Paralympic aspirations, Clark has ventured into the realm of professional MMA. Remarkably, in 2022, he achieved victory in his inaugural fight against a fully abled opponent, gaining recognition and fueling his desire for further success.


Throughout the years, Clark has achieved remarkable feats, securing three world records: the title of the fastest man on two hands, the highest box jumps using his hands (33 inches), and the record for the most diamond push-ups completed in three minutes (248).

Looking ahead, Clark plans to challenge one of his records next year, aiming to surpass the impressive 4.78 seconds it took him to cover 20 meters with his hands.

Expressing his enthusiasm, he remarked with a smile that setting high bars is something he enjoys, and he sees no reason not to raise it even further.

He acknowledged a brief hiatus due to a hand injury earlier in the year but remains determined to continue pushing his limits.

Engage in a conversation with Clark today, and you’ll encounter a person exuding confidence, eager to acquire knowledge, and unhesitant about proclaiming his capabilities.

He’s certainly not shy in front of the camera, as evidenced by his participation and advancement to the semifinals of America’s Got Talent this year.

During the show, he showcased not only his physical prowess but also his musical talents—remarkably, Clark can play the piano, guitar, and drums.

When questioned about the driving force behind maintaining such intensity in his life, Clark’s response is straightforward. He states that nothing brings him greater joy than delivering a punch, winning a race, executing a wrestling move, or immersing himself in playing music on the drums, piano, or guitar.

He emphasizes that these activities bring him happiness above all else. Reflecting on the past five or six years, he notes that even when not financially rewarded, he continued pursuing these passions because they brought him genuine happiness.

Finding a mentor

In his adult life, Clark has purposefully chosen to surround himself with positive individuals, and one of them is Craig Levinson.

Their initial meeting took place in a remarkable setting, backstage at the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and since then, they have embarked on global adventures together.

Their connection was instant, forged through a mutual passion for fitness and shared aspirations of contributing to a better world.

Levinson has taken on the role of Clark’s manager and has witnessed his friend’s growth, both as an athlete and as a person.

Describing Clark, Levinson highlights his youthful spirit, enjoyment of laughter, video games, and light-hearted banter. Beyond the camera, he portrays Clark as a down-to-earth individual who appreciates a simple and uncomplicated life.

Credit: CNN

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