A Champ In, And Out Of, The Ring

hartman wrestler
This is not one of those typical stories about the sweet boy who overcame his disabilities. It's a story about an ornery brat … who did it just the same, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports.

"I was a trouble maker. Me and dad used to fight a lot," Dustin Carter said. "I was very disrespectful."

"I think he was just trying to fit in somewhere is what I think," his Dad said.

Dustin wasn't born troubled or disabled. But when he was young he contracted a rare blood disease that would eventually claim his limbs … all four of them.

After that, Dustin grew into a straight "F" student with a passion for apathy.

Until eighth grade, when he found, of all things, wrestling.

"I felt like at least he'd be out there practicing, participating with the kids, he'll probably never wrestle," his dad said.

But he did wrestle. And what happened?

"I got beat pretty bad," he said.

"Well, they just get out there and just throw him around on the mat," his dad said.

Dustin lost about ever time he set his torso in the ring.

But the competition brought out a side of Dustin no one had ever seen before.

"He's got heart. He's got the heart the size of a lion," said Dustin's coach, Nate Horne. "He can persevere through anything."

"That's me. I'm a pretty determined person," Dustin said. "I'll sit at something and sit at it for hours until I get it."

Over the years, Dustin trained hard.

"I worked out a lot."

By all accounts he became a model of self-discipline. His grades went up and he actually started winning. Winning more than anyone, other than Dustin, could have ever imagined.

"There's not one day in my life, ever since I started wrestling, that I have not dreamed of going to the state tournament," he said.

And last week, it happened. Dustin made it to the state tournament.

"Oh, it was amazing. I looked up, I looked around, and then I got scared," he said. "I was like, I feel really small right now."

The Ohio tournament is actually one of the most competitive in the nation. And yet even there, he was able to pull off a win.

That move and one more victory placed Dustin in the top 16 in his weight class.

His final match, the last of his high school career, was a real knock-down drag-out. And although he lost the bout, he so won the audience.

"I look up and everybody is on their feet. And immediately my eyes started watering."

Dustin says when you're disabled like he is, it's hard to get used to all the staring.

But this kind of staring … he could get used to.

  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.