By Ann Rowland
As a child, Chris Melendez had two dreams; to serve his country overseas in combat and to become a professional wrestler. He was inspired by his father, a Viet Nam vet, to serve his country and the events of September 11, 2001 solidified that desire to serve. He joined the Army at the age of 17 and he was only 19 when he left Iraq a single leg amputee. Now he is on the verge of seeing his other child hood dream become a reality.
In September 2006, 19 year old Army Sgt. Chris Melendez had 23 days left in Iraq when he was hit by a roadside bomb. “When I was able to open my eyes after the explosion I looked across the battlefield to see what I thought was a fellow-soldier in need of help. I quickly realized it was my leg.” Chris lost his leg above the knee but that hasn’t stopped this remarkable young man.
Chris is about to enter the ring for his first professional wrestling match in Manhattan Center on August 5. For this kid from Spanish Harlem who was first introduced to professional wrestling by his grandmother, it is truly a dream come true. He has been training hard for this event to build up his endurance and feels that being a Wounded Warrior is nothing but advantageous to his wrestling career.
Sgt. Melendez had to be resuscitated three times following the IED explosion that took his leg. He eventually returned back to the US where he rehabbed at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Within 40 days, he was walking with a prosthetic leg. He is a member of the Wounded Warrior Project and it was their support, as well as the support of family and friends that kept him going in those initial days.
In 2012, Melendez began training with Team 3D Academy of Professional Wrestling in Florida. He recently signed a multi-year contract with TNA Wrestling. “Sarge” as he is known in the locker room says that it is “The ability to captivate an audience without having to say any words” that got him hooked on the sport as a young child watching with his grandmother.
Melendez readily credits the “military mentality” for helping him to overcome any obstacle associated with being a single-leg amputee. There is no room for self-pity in the military and no one lets you get down on yourself.
For the young boy who dreamed of serving his country and being a professional wrestler, Chris believes that things have come full circle for him. While the wrestling match is being taped on August 5, it will be aired on September 11.
To read more about Chris, please visit http://www.wrestlezone.com/news/497771-tna-signs-chris-melendez-to-a-deal