FORT COLLINS, Colo. - It is the most ancient of sport and demands the utmost in physical strength. Wrestling has likely been with us since man walked upright.
In Fort Collins there’s a remarkable boy with no arms and amputated legs -- teaching lessons in courage and perseverance in spite of the disability he will have to wrestle with for the rest of his life.
“Wrestling is the last combat sport left in middle schools & high schools," Spencer Hawk said. "It’s a tough sport for anybody.”
The atmosphere at Boltz Middle School is electric on the cold wintry night.
“[It's] just you and him and best man wins.”
The crowd cheers.
“I have two moves that I try to use all the time," Spencer said. "It’s kind of what my coach calls a Russian?”
By using grappling techniques, Spencer tries to gain a superior position on his opponent.
“When I see competition, I go for it, even if they’re bigger than me!”
The 12 year old has no arms and both his legs were amputated just above the knee.
“Spencer was born with something called TAR Syndrome, which means low platelets and missing the radius bone," his mother Jennifer Hawk said.
He also has an amazing spirit.
“Every day I do this to any random wrestler after water break: ‘Like, you wanna wrestle?’” Spencer said.
“He’s right up front watching. And he’s cheering on his team in every match," wrestling coach Nicholas Ray said.
But if you think he's on the team just to cheer, you'd be wrong.
“He’s got a really good low single; his neutral is where he’s best, probably," said Spencer's teammate Aidin Murray.
If you don't follow wrestling and know the terms, here is all you really need to know:
“Wrestling is difficult, and to be able to do it, you gotta have heart," said coach Ray. "And Spencer’s got that heart.”
“Mr. Ray, he – and I LIKE this – he treats me like the other wrestlers," Spencer said.
Spencer has been through more than most kids.
“He’s had as many surgeries as he is of age," Spencer's mom said. "So he’s had 12 procedures in life.”
Even so, Spencer remains incredibly active. He cycles with his younger brother Owen, water skis and practices karate.
“I think I know some people who are like me who have disabilities and they’ve wrestled and they’re really GOOD!” Spencer said.
“He never stops impressing us with what he’s willing to go out and try,” Coach Ray said.
But he's a wrestler with disabilities, and it is a competition.
“He doesn’t win a lot," Doug Powell, Spencer’s stepfather said. "In my mind, Spencer is learning a lesson in humility and teaching a lesson in courage.”