A San Diego-based wrestling and track athlete who was born without legs has his eyes set on becoming an MMA fighter.
Zion Clark, 24, recently set the Guinness World Record for the fastest 20-meter walk on hands and hopes to be the first person to compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics.
But, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Clark’s number one goal is training to become an MMA fighter.
Clark currently trains with Charles Martinez at The Arena Gym — a renowned MMA gym in San Diego. Clark relocated to the city nine months ago after falling in love with California because of its athletic, film, and TV opportunities.
“If you want to be at the top of the pyramid you want to train with people who know what they’re doing,” Clark told the Union-Tribune. “It’s a violent sport but that’s the name of the game and I love it. I thrive in environments like that because I crave that competition. All I can say is you should expect to see more of me.”
His training regimen currently involves at least five hours of training, five days a week, as well as a strictly organic diet.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Clark was born with a rare disorder called Caudal Regression Syndrome. The disease, which affects about one in every 100,00 people, impairs the development of the lower half of the body.
Clark’s mother gave him up to the foster care system when he was born. During the first 17 years of his life, he bounced around multiple foster homes. Clark said he was bullied, underfed, and mistreated at the time. The only place he felt safe was at school, where he signed up for all the extracurricular activities that he could.
Then, when he was seven years old, he discovered wrestling.
“I love wrestling because I get to go be myself,” he said. “You may find yourself at the bottom of the barrel getting the crap beat out of you and it’s up to you if you’ll stand up and fight back or not.”
While Clark loved wrestling, he reportedly struggled at the sport at first. After losing virtually every match between grade school and junior year, Clark met high school wrestling coach Gil Donahue, who pushed him to work harder.
During his senior year, Clark won 33 out of 50 wrestling matches and bagged his high school’s wrestling championship. He also went on to wrestle at Kent State University and won two state championships in wheelchair racing.
In addition to wrestling and athletics, Clark is also a motivational speaker and author. He was the subject of a documentary short film dubbed “Zion” that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018 and can now be seen on Netflix.
The short documentary, it’s worth noting, also picked up two Sports Emmy wins.
Training to become an Olympian and Paralympian as well as a well-rounded wrestler and MMA fighter would be more than enough for a single lifetime. However, Clark is also working on starting his own business and achieving more roles in both television and film acting.
“I’ve been told I am a natural at it, so I would like to put those talents to use,” Clark told Forbes in an interview. “I am also working on a lot of non-profit work, giving back to help reform the foster care system, which is a life goal. I don’t want the kids in the system to suffer like I did growing up.”
Clark is an obvious inspiration to millions across the world. His Instagram account has more than one million followers, as well as seventeen million likes on his TikTok channel and nearly 40 million views on the YouTube clip of his Guinness World Record.
His advice to others? “No Excuses.” Clark lives by that motto, and even has it tattooed in large print across his back.
“I had to just make up my mind to work hard and get stronger and that’s all it is, you have to break that mental block, you have to shatter your own glass ceilings,” Clark told NBC San Diego in a Feb. 3 interview.