Amputee Purple Heart recipient set to make pro wrestling debut

Amputee Purple Heart recipient set to make pro wrestling debut

Published Aug. 5, 2014 6:27 p.m. ET

Chris Melendez lost a leg in the battlefield in Iraq. The war hero from East Harlem is now preparing for a different kind of "fight," taking to the ring for "TNA Impact Wrestling" in New York this week.

Melendez is the son of a Vietnam veteran. He jointed the military at age 17 and was nearly at the end of a two-year stint when an IED explosion cost him his leg.

 "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," Melendez said in a TNA press release. "I quickly realized it was my leg."

Melendez, who received a Purple Heart, is a fighter and within 40 days he was back up and walking with a prosthetic leg.


His love for pro wrestling grew from his youth when he would watch with his grandmother.

 "The ability to captivate an audience without having to say any words is what got me hooked," said Melendez, who has been training for two years.

Melendez will not be the first person with one leg to wrestle.

Years ago, Zach Gowen had a short stint in WWE. Gowen, who lost his leg to cancer, now wrestles on the independent circuit. He is part of a tag team with Gregory Iron, who suffers from cerebral palsy.