No Excuses

Wrestler, MMA Fighter and Author Zion Clark Will Speak at This Year's PINC Conference

Ahead of his appearance in Sarasota, Clark spoke about his rise to fame, his mother’s influence, finding peace of mind, and more.

By Matthew Gutierrez November 30, 2023

Zion Clark

Zion Clark

Zion Clark, the fastest man on two hands, was born without legs due to a rare disorder called Caudal regression syndrome. Because his mother was imprisoned and drug-addicted, he entered the foster care system. At times, he said, he was starved, beaten, abused and neglected, and he shuffled between seven or eight foster homes. 

“I grew up real rough,” Clark, 26, says. “So the message I give is that I’m not somebody who’s just going to throw in the towel.”

Two years ago, Clark—who's also a wrestler, MMA fighter,  Guinness World Record holder, author and speaker—spoke in Sarasota at All Star Children’s Foundation, where he advocated for foster care in southwest Florida. When Clark’s mother couldn’t care for him, he entered foster care in Ohio before he was adopted at 17 by Kimberlli Clark Hawkins, who he calls his biggest supporter. 

Clark, the subject of the Emmy Award-winning Netflix documentary Zion, will speak at this year's PINC conference, which returns to the Sarasota Opera House on Thursday, Dec. 7.  He stands at about 3 feet tall and weighs 110 pounds, and he hopes to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024. 

Clark has amassed more than 1 million Instagram followers and can be seen on a recent season of America’s Got Talent. Ahead of his PINC appearance, he spoke from San Diego about his rise to fame, his mother’s influence, finding peace of mind, and more. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How does your “no excuses” motto play into your life?

"It’s tattooed on my back. I love it. There are no excuses for anything. It’s about taking ownership over your actions, and showing that you’re able to commit to something and see it all the way through."

What do you love about wrestling and mixed martial arts?

"It helps me relieve stress. The harder you work out, the more endorphins get released through your brain. Endorphins are the chemicals that cause happiness." 

You’ve talked about your interest in music and drumming. What role does that play in your life?

"I’ve been a drummer for a long time. When I was little, I was in church one day, and my first foster mom, a wonderful lady, walked me over to the drum set. She set me on the drummer’s lap and I went ham. I picked it up quickly after that. Today, I own three drum sets. I try to play them every day." 

What’s your most treasured possession?

"I just love what I do. I don’t have anything that I covet." 

Clark is a wrestler, MMA fighter,  Guinness World Record holder, author and speaker.

Clark is a wrestler, MMA fighter,  Guinness World Record holder, author and speaker.

Are the Summer 2024 Olympics and Paralympics in Paris still your goal? How do you plan to prepare for the games?

"Yes, still the goal. I’ve been on a nice training schedule. I’ll be going to the Olympic Training Center here in Chula Vista."

Who inspires you most?

"The people around me." 

In what ways has your adopted mother, Kimberlli, guided you?

"My mom’s been a driving force. I’m an adult now, so I don’t talk to her every day, but she was definitely somebody who helped me. She gave me confidence and love. There were no mantras or anything, but she wanted me to stick to what I set out to do. In a challenging moment, she said to stay true to yourself. She kept it straightforward with me. If I was messing up, she’d tell me to reassess and restart next time." 

What would you tell your younger self?

"Absolutely nothing. Just let it play out as it did. I’m living such a blessed life right now, why would I want to change it?"

How else do you get your mind right?

"Some days, I don’t feel the greatest. Sometimes I’m in a bad mood, but that doesn’t stop me from respecting people. It doesn’t stop me from working my hardest."

Clark holds the Guinness World Record for most diamond pushups performed in three minutes.

Clark holds the Guinness World Record for most diamond pushups performed in three minutes.

What message do you want to send to younger kids who look up to you?

"If you don’t like how something’s going, find something you do like and be happy with it. Be comfortable with yourself, because there are a lot of things we just can’t control, so control what you can control." 

What’s a typical training day for you?

"I try to eat well, relax and get my mind right. I train every day."

What are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled?

"South Korea and Qatar. Qatar was incredible: nice people, good food." 

What did you hope to accomplish with your memoir, Work With What You Got?

"I just wanted to tell people, look at my life, look at where you’re at, you can find similarities. You read it, maybe you’ll be able to upgrade your own life. Live your best life. Read it, be inspired to chase your dream. No excuses."

For more information about this year's PINC Conference, and to purchase tickets, click here.

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