He literally crawled his way to the top. Literally.

Kyle is a motivational speaker, author, entrepreneur and athlete. He wrestled for one of the best teams in the Southeast, set records in weightlifting, fought in mixed martial arts, and most recently became the first man who crawled on his own to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.

Wait, crawled?

Yes.

Crawled.

Kyle was born with a condition known as congenital amputation—his arms end at the elbows and legs near the knees. Yet, his mantra (and title of his 2005 NYT best seller) No Excuses, can serve as an inspiration to all of us.

His parents had no idea their firstborn son would have a disability, but they made a critical decision early on to drive him to be as independent as possible—beginning what Maynard calls his “pursuit of normalcy.”

And so, with what amount to two elbows, he can:

  • Type up to fifty words per minute on a normal keyboard
  • Eat and write without any adaptations
  • Drive a vehicle that has little modification
  • Live on his own in a three-story townhouse in Atlanta

Maynard’s athletic journey began as an 11-year-old that wanted to wrestle and a coach that gave him an opportunity to try.

He lost every single match his first year, and most his second.

But with his iron will and parents who wouldn’t let him give up on himself, Kyle found a way to win 36 varsity matches his senior year; defeating several state place finishers and state champions during his final season. He also began weight training at the same age, and after a very modest start, he attained the title “GNC’s World’s Strongest Teen” by bench pressing 23 repetitions of 240 lbs. A few years later, with leather straps and chains attached to his arms, he successfully lifted 420 lbs.

But his accomplishments extend far beyond the wrestling mat or weight room. He is the 2004 ESPY Award winner (Best Athlete with a Disability), and a year later was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He’s also received the Highest Recognition Award of the Secretary of Health and Human Services for his efforts as a life role model, motivational speaker and humanitarian.

He is certified as an instructor of CrossFit—and with the support of the community and founder, Coach Greg Glassman, Maynard has been able to work with wounded soldiers on adapting their fitness regimens to meet their needs with a much more functional methodology.

His story has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, ESPN’s Sportscenter, HBO’s Real Sports, ABC’s 20/20 and Good Morning America, and as a cover story in USA Today.

What was the last tough spot you had to “crawl through”?