Purple Heart recipient lives dream; becomes first veteran amputee pro-wrestler

An Army infantry gunner who survived a roadside bomb attack in Iraq  but lost his leg as a result, never lost his will to live.

And now he’s living out a dream of becoming a pro wrestler – on a prosthetic limb.

chrismelendez0811“I’m very excited because there have been so many people who have not seen me perform, who are questioning my ability, whether I can go the distance,” Purple Heart recipient Chris Melendez said in an interview with the Army Times. “Once I step in there, I will show the whole world what I’m capable of.”

When he was wounded, Melendez was a specialist patrolling the dangerous streets of Sadr City in Baghdad with only 23 days left on his deployment. Besides having his left leg amputated above the knee, he had to have his jaw rebuilt, according to the Army Times.

He also had to rebuild his life, with the help of the Wounded Warrior Project.

Now, the 27-year-old has traded military combat for the “combat” of professional wrestling, the first veteran amputee to make it into the ring. And the man who joined the Army at 17 right after the 9/11 attacks is making his televised debut on Spike TV on Sept. 11. (The bout actually occurred Aug. 6.)

Check out this report from ABC News. You might not believe there’s anything real about pro wrestling, but you will believe Chris Melendez is the real deal.


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Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].

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