Blind, autistic wrestler dominates the competition

ByClayton Hall Localish logo
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Blind, autistic wrestler has no fear
This blind cancer survivor is winning on and off the wrestling mat.

DELAWARE COUNTY, Ohio -- 160-pound junior Caiden Hooks is not your typical high school wrestler.

He was diagnosed with eye cancer, bilateral retinoblastoma, at 19 months old and had both eyes removed before the age of four.

He wrestles by feel after being exposed to the sport at six. "The tables have turned," Hooks told ABC-6. "Now I'm the stud people are afraid to face on the mat." Hooks has put together a 25-7 record this season inspired by his alter ego, the Copper Hammer.

Hooks also deals with autism. "Sometimes I have issues with social interaction. I'm rigid in my thinking and I get flustered sometimes," added Hooks.

His teammates have not only adapted to him, but they have also embraced him. The pillars of the program are written in braille, and the team also has an annual dine in the dark night where they eat blindfolded.

His success has even drawn the ire of some opposing coaches who complain about his coaching advantages.

Despite it all, he has an inspiring attitude. "I'm here for a reason. The Lord put me here for a reason. And this is my chance to testify."

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