Nick Ackerman

Succeeding at a rigorous and demanding sport like wrestling is a feat not easily accomplished. Imagine trying to master this task without the use of your lower legs. These are the circumstances facing the National Wrestling Hall of Fame's 1999 Medal of Courage winner Nick Ackerman.

The Colfax, Iowa native's legs were amputated just below the kneecaps when he was 1 1/2 years old to halt a life-threatening form of bacterial meningitis. However, Ackerman does not view his situation as a disability, but rather just another challenge.

"I have never gone to bed and cried because I didn't have any legs," said Ackerman. "You can't feel sorry for yourself. You get what you are given and it is up to you to make the most of it."

Despite what many would see as a setback, it has not prevented the 19-year old from leading a very active life. He still participated in football, track, soccer, swimming and roller skating as a youth. It is wrestling, however, that he has enjoyed the most since taking up the sport while in the third grade.

The lack of lower legs has not kept Ackerman from excelling on the mat. During his 2 1/2 years as a varsity wrestler for Colfax-Mingo High School , he compiled a 71-38 record. He capped a 32-8 senior season by placing six in the 152-pound weight class in Iowa's 1A state tournament. The inspirational performance came despite suffering a fractured wrist in a first round victory over a previously undefeated and one of the top-ranked wrestlers in the state. The victory was hailed as one of the top 13 stories in the metro area in 1997.

Ackerman is currently competing at the Division III level for Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. As a freshman, he compiled a record of 15-16 for the Storm. He recorded eight pins, including four straight to begin his collegiate career. This past season, the environmental science major amassed a 13-14 record.


Medal of Courage

All American Awards:

Division III

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