STILLWATER - There's not much Kyle Maynard can't do. That says a lot coming from a 19-year old with no elbows or knees. Maynard was born with a rare disorder called congenital amputation. It left him with three total joints - his neck and two shoulders. He's just over two feet tall and weighs about 125 pounds.
His condition would keep most people from accomplishing routine activities, much less being competitive in sports. But Maynard isn't most people.
The University of Georgia freshman received the Medal of Courage from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Friday night in Stillwater. Such honors are becoming routine for Maynard.
"I've had some honors, but it's unbelievable to be honored here," Maynard said. "This is the heart of wrestling. You can feel the spirit here."
The Hall also added four inductees Friday night: Chris Campbell and Larry "Zeke" Jones, both Olympians and world champions; former Oklahoma State wrestler and current Minnesota coach J Robinson; and former Clarion University coach Robert Bubb.
Maynard has some lofty credentials of his own.
He has wrestled since the sixth grade. His high school coach, Cliff Ramos, would get on his knees and tuck his arms into his sleeves to understand Maynard's perspective and help him train. Together, they developed moves specific to how Maynard could wrestle.
Maynard had a 35-16 record in high school and won three out of five matches his senior year at the state meet. He had the third-most takedowns (89) on his team. He just missed All-America status after competing in the NHSCA Wrestling Championships.
He has received an ESPY award for Best Athlete with a Disability. He's been on Larry King Live, HBO, the Howard Stern radio show and ESPN's Cold Pizza. Maynard has even done modeling for Abercrombie & Fitch. "My life is all about normalcy," Maynard said. "That's kind of the conflict with this award. I see myself as normal. There are so many other people that deserve this award.
"Right now, I'm just in awe. I'm seeing some of my heroes around here."
Maynard is continuing his wrestling career at Georgia. He is on a club team that competes in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association. He also has participated in swimming, baseball, street hockey and football, all with the aid of prosthesis.
"He's a ball of spirit, a gift to the world," Hall of Fame executive director Lee Roy Smith said. "This award is not about what he can do for us, but a congratulations for being who he is.
"Wrestling is about self-reliance, self discipline and self-confidence. Kyle has all three."
Maynard said he will wrestle as long as he can. He is studying broadcast journalism. He said he'll continue to travel and do motivational speaking while in school.
"If my story has an impact on one person, it will be worth the fight," Maynard said. "Without wrestling and without the people around me, I wouldn't be in my situation. It's nothing special about me. It's all about the sport."
Also recognized by the Hall of Fame this year: Outstanding American, James Ravannack of Metarie, La.; Order of Merit, Stan Zeamer of Manheim, Pa.; Lifetime Achievement Award for Officials, Bobby Walton of Midwest City; National High School Excellence Award, Troy Nickerson of Chenango Forks, N.Y.
Source: Daily Oklahoman, June 4, 2005