Clinton Davies can't see the opponents he beats, or the medals he wins.
Davies has been 95 per cent blind since the age of two, the result of an allergic reaction which also blistered his skin and affected his lungs.
But the 34-year-old Aucklander - who sees rough shapes up to a metre - beat the odds and many naysayers to become a top wrestler and jujutsu exponent. He has won 10 national wrestling titles and two in jujutsu, and represented New Zealand at world championships in both.
Davies, who won Pan Pacific jujutsu medals in Melbourne last week, is about to enter new territory as a motivational speaker. He chats to the Herald.
Wrestling or jujutsu. Which is tougher?
As a blind person, wrestling. With jujutsu, you keep in contact with your opponent all the time. In wrestling, guys came to use blindness against me which is the smart move.
They started attacking from long distance. I had no complaints. In sport you use any advantage that you have.
Your formula for success is...
Lots and lots of training. I still wrestle six times a week, work with MMA fighters, train jujutsu twice a day six times a week. Training and persistence. I lost every wrestling fight for two years when I started, about 40 fights. Worse still, I didn't even score a point. I don't quit. I told people I was going to be a national champion and go to the world championships. So many doubted me. My mum was stubborn. Maybe I got it from her. I hate losing. It sucks.
Describe your upbringing...
I had three brothers and a sister. We were brought up all over the North Island, between Featherstone and Auckland. My mum would get bored, had itchy feet. You'd come home and she would be changing the house around.
We moved 15 times during one three year period. I kind of stopped making friends which was the hard part and back then there wasn't the technology for blind people to keep in contact. We became experts at packing - she would tell us one day before the truck arrived and we'd pack a four or five bedroom house in a day.
That must have been particularly tough when you are blind...moving on, what is your motivational message?
I don't really think of myself as an inspirational person, just somebody who had a goal. There are five things that make you successful...make sure you really want what you are aiming for...believe in yourself...have one person who also believes in you...goal setting including small goals...and of course hard, hard work all the time.
Your career highlight is...
The first time I won at the Oceania Championships. They were playing the national anthem and raising the flag...you can't describe that feeling to someone who hasn't experienced it.
Your childhood hero was...
(Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist) Sarah Ulmer...she was awesome. She never quit. And back then she had to deal with more negativity about women's sport.
Is there something you would like to change as a blind person in sport?
People ask why I was never interested in the Paralympics. I did consider it but people see Paralympians as less, even though they argue they don't. I'd like to see the Paralympic events put into the Olympics - everyone would just be Olympians.
What is your main career goal?
This might sound up myself but all I care about is winning a world championship jujutsu medal.
Do you dwell on how you became blind?
Never. People ask if I wish I wasn't blind. No way man. I had a pretty rough upbringing, shifting all the time. I got bullied at school. But now I have a fantastic life. I'm such a lucky person. I've had a partner (Andrea) for 15 years, we hardly ever argue, two awesome kids, roof over my head, food. I've got nothing to complain about.
Blind Ambition - One man's fight to the very top
Hear Clinton Davies speak on his inspirational journey at Auckland Girls Grammar School in Freemans Bay on Tuesday November 8. Doors open at 6.30pm.
More information at APIA.org.nz