Never give up without a fight: Rustin’s story

Without hardship, there would be no accomplishments. If there were nothing to battle for, there would be nothing to be won. Rustin Hughes is a VA and MMA fighter from Colorado that has fought and triumphed. Here’s his story.

giving back

When his friend Ryan Schults took Rustin to the gym, he began to hit the heavy bag and all that build-up pain and uncertainty began to escape. It felt therapeutical so Rustin became dedicated to relearning martial arts and jiujitsu in particular. Rustin had recovered his strength and was back on his feet, even if one was made of metal and plastic. “The great thing about jiujitsu is that the playing field between amputees and non-amputees is actually quite leveled. Not having a leg for the opponent to grab can actually be an advantage.” My coach always told me to take my disability and turn it into ability. To take my disadvantage and turn them into my advantage. And that’s what I learn and have been teaching too.

From there on Rustin became ever more involved in the community around him. He handcycled over 600 miles over the course of a week with a fellow army veteran to raise funds to support a family who had also lost a dear one to brain cancer. Later on, Rustin founded B-Bold, a program designed to train adaptive athletes. Through B-Bold Hughes is helping other people regain their active lifestyle and that’s what we are all about too so when Levitate went to Colorado, we just had to meet him at his gym – Trials MMA in Fort Collins.

It’s all about the mindset

When we got to the gym we began preparing some blades for people to try out. One of Hughes’ friends assembled it first and gave it a go. When he took it out, Hughes just grabbed it, put it on in a matter of seconds, and nearly immediately started running. “It took a few seconds to get the hang of it but then everything just clicked. The return was amazing and I felt like I was finally putting weight on my right leg. it was awesome!”

“I had tried a running blade before but honestly it didn’t feel great and never tried it again. When I installed the Levitate blade it just felt right! I’ve been talking about it nonstop since then. I really want to run a 5k now!”

When we asked Rustin about his life as an amputee and his thoughts on disability he said: “You know, I think I was more disabled when I had two legs. My disability was in my mindset. In many ways, losing my leg was a blessing in disguise. It taught me how to live more fully and has taken me on an amazing journey with amazing people I would have not met otherwise. When I was in Abu Dhabi for an MMA fight they told me that in their language they don’t really have our definition of “disabled”, they call it “people of determination” and that’s exactly what it should be. It’s all in the mindset”