Born without legs, MMA fighter Zion Clark refuses to give up on his Olympic Aspirations: ‘The Sky’s The Limit’

Zion Clark

Zion Clark is a wrestler, mixed martial artist, and aspiring Olympian.

All of that sounds impressive as it is, but what you may not know is that Clark, 26, was born with a rare defect called Caudal Regression Syndrome, which left him without legs. Despite the obvious obstacles that come with his condition, Clark has already set three Guinness World Records and won his MMA debut under the Gladiator Challenge banner in December 2022.

“I just like to enjoy myself,” Clark told CNN Sport, explaining what motivates him to keep pushing his limits.“You know, a lot of people get stuck in stipulations that you have to go work this 9-to-5 job every single day. When in all reality, once you find something that actually makes you happy, you know, the sky’s the limit.”

Given up by his mother at birth, Zion Clark spent many of his younger years bouncing around between foster homes where he was often subjected to mental and physical abuse. The experience ultimately led him to thoughts of committing suicide.

When he was 16, Clark found a loving and supportive family that helped him build the foundation for future success.

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Through the sport of wrestling, Zion Clark had finally found discipline and a sense of self-worth

​“There’s a saying that once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life becomes easy and I wholeheartedly believe that,” Clark said. “It’s a sport for everybody. Anybody can join and do it. Anybody can be successful. It takes a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of time. But if you can find peace in it, find joy from being in a combat sport like that, the sky’s the limit.”

Zion Clark’s work in the gym has encouraged him to continuously set the bar higher and higher with each passing day. After finding success in wrestling and MMA, he took up wheelchair racing in hopes of representing his country in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

But it’s in combat sports where Clark really feeds off the intensity and physicality of his chosen path.

“Nothing makes me happier than throwing a punch in somebody’s face or beating somebody in a race or picking somebody up and throwing them down on a mat or sitting on a drumset making music for hours or piano or guitar,” he said. “It makes me happy first. You go back five, six years when I was doing all this, I wasn’t making no money, but I was still doing it because it made me happy.”

In case you missed it, Zion Clark is also an aspiring musician and recently made it to the America’s Got Talent semi-finals with his unique combination of strength and sound.

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Zion Clark Finds a Friend and a Mentor in the Unlikeliest of Places

After a rough upbringing, Zion Clark has chosen to surround himself with good-natured people who are both passionate about fitness and making the world a better place. That includes Clark’s manager Craig Levinson whom he met backstage at the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

The pair immediately hit it off and have since traveled the world with one another.

“He’s a kid at heart, so he likes to laugh and play video games and joke around. And, you know, he’s a pretty ordinary human outside of the camera. Just likes to live a very simple life,” Levinson told CNN Sport. “Through his upbringing, building trust with people is something tough. Our bond stemmed from this friendship, where he could really trust me and know that I have his best intentions and interests and I’m going to help him. We succeed and fail at things together.”

Looking to inspire others, Zion Clark has embraced the opportunity to become a motivational speaker, sharing the lessons he has learned throughout his life and showing first-hand that no obstacle can stand in the way of your dreams.

“I always like to say in my speeches that you don’t need your legs to leave a footprint on this planet,” Clark said. “It’s a very literal statement and a metaphorical statement because, you know, everybody has the ability to make an impact. Are you going to wait for an opportunity or are you going to force the opportunity? Either way, once you do that, that’s when you start leaving your imprint. Anybody can do that anywhere.”