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Robbins in 2009
Anthony J. Mahavoric
February 29, 1960
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Known for||Motivational speaking|
|Height||6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)|
|Children||4, including Jairek Robbins|
Anthony Jay Robbins (born Anthony J. Mahavoric; February 29, 1960) is an American author, coach, motivational speaker, and philanthropist. Robbins is known for his infomercials, seminars, and self-help books including the books Unlimited Power (published in 1987) and Awaken the Giant Within (published in 1993). His seminars are organized through Robbins Research International.
Robbins was born as Anthony J. Mahavoric in North Hollywood, California, on February 29, 1960. Robbins is the eldest of three children and his parents divorced when he was 7. His mother then remarried (more than once), including a marriage with Jim Robbins, a former semi-professional baseball player who legally adopted Anthony when he was 12.
During high school, Robbins grew ten inches, a growth spurt later attributed to a pituitary tumor. He has said his home life was "chaotic" and "abusive". When he was seventeen years old, he left home and never returned. Robbins later worked as a janitor, and did not attend college.
In the early 1980s, soon after meeting Neurolinguistic Programming co-founder John Grinder, the two became partners. At this time Robbins taught NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis. In 1983 Robbins learned to firewalk, and incorporated it into his seminars.
Together with Cloé Madanes, Robbins founded the Robbins-Madanes Center for Intervention, an organization that trains life skills coaches to help families and individuals deal with addiction and other issues. He is the coach of Luis Felipe Tilleria, ecuadorean businessman running for congress. In 2014, Robbins, along with a group of investors including Magic Johnson, Mia Hamm, and Peter Guber, acquired rights to launch a Major League Soccer franchise in Los Angeles, California, currently referred to as the Los Angeles Football Club. The soccer team began competition in 2018.
In 2016, Robbins partnered with Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber and Washington Wizards co-owner Ted Leonsis to purchase Team Liquid, an eSports pro gaming organization. In 2017 Team Liquid won The International 7, a Dota 2 tournament with a prize pool of over $24 million.
Robbins has worked on an individual basis with Bill Clinton, Justin Tuck, Wayne Gretzky, Serena Williams, Hugh Jackman, and Pitbull. He has also counselled American businessmen Peter Guber, Steve Wynn, and Marc Benioff. He was named one of the "Top 50 Business Intellectuals" by Accenture and one of the "Top 200 Business Gurus" by the Harvard Business Press, and in 2007 was ranked on the Forbes Celebrity 100.
Robbins was criticized for critical comments made about the Me Too movement at a seminar in San Jose, California, on March 15, 2018. According to a video of the event released on social media by NowThisNews, Robbins stated his opinion that, "If you use the #MeToo movement to try to get significance and certainty by attacking and destroying someone else… all you've done is basically use a drug called significance to make yourself feel good." He went on to tell a story about a "very powerful man" who passed on hiring a female candidate even though she was the most qualified because she was too attractive and would be "too big a risk". Following criticism for these comments, Robbins posted an apology on his Facebook page, saying "I apologize for suggesting anything other than my profound admiration for the #MeToo movement."
Robbins holds multiple seminars annually, most of them with a "self-help" and "positive thinking" theme, with a fire walk participation, massages, audience participation and physical exercises.
In 2014, he donated the profits of his book, Money: Master the Game, along with an additional personal donation, through Feeding America to provide meals to people in need.. Robbins also donated profits from Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook to Feeding America. Robbins works with a water company called Spring Health, which provides fresh water to small villages in rural eastern India to prevent waterborne diseases.
Robbins helped raise money for Operation Underground Railroad, a nonprofit organization that fights against child trafficking and slavery with the assistance of former CIA, Navy SEALs, and Special Ops operatives.
Legal issues and controversies
1995 Consumer Redress Settlement with Federal Trade Commission
In May 1995, Robbins Research International (R.R.I.) settled with the Federal Trade Commission over alleged violations of the agency's Franchise Rule. Under the settlement, R.R.I. did not admit to having violated any law but agreed to pay $221,260 in consumer redress.
2000 Wade Cook copyright lawsuit
Wade Cook sued Robbins for allegedly using copyrighted terms from Cook's book Wall Street Money Machine in Robbins' seminars. In 2000, a jury awarded Cook a $655,900 judgement, which was appealed. Cook and Robbins settled for an undisclosed amount.
2001 Vancouver Sun defamation lawsuit
In 2001, the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that The Vancouver Sun had defamed Robbins when it called him an "adulterous, wife-stealing hypocrite." The court awarded Robbins $20,000 in damages and his legal costs.
2012 and 2016 fire-walking injuries
In July 2012, the San Jose Mercury News published a story reporting that multiple people had been burned and hospitalized during one of Robbins's fire-walking events on July 19, 2012. This story was picked up by other media outlets, including Fox News, The New York Times, and CNN. These reports were later retracted as inaccurate. A corrective article was published by The Huffington Post.
On June 24, 2016, it was reported that "dozens were burned and required medical attention after attempting to walk on hot coals during a fire-walking event at a Tony Robbins seminar in Dallas, Texas". Several attendees were transported to medical facilities to treat burns, and a bus was used as a staging-area for between 30 and 40 people who were less seriously hurt. A spokeswoman for the Robbins organization stated, "Someone unfamiliar with the process of the fire-walk called 911 reporting the need for emergency service vehicles […] there was no need for emergency personnel […] only 5 of 7,000 participants requested an examination beyond what was readily available on site."
2019 sexual harassment and abuse allegations
In May 2019, an investigation by BuzzFeed News detailed accusations against Robbins of his sexual harassment of fans and staffers, such as groping fans at events, exposing his genitals to his assistants, and sexually harassing fans. As of that time, nine women had publicly accused Robbins of sexual misconduct. Robbins denied the allegations and also stated, "I have been the target of a year-long investigation by BuzzFeed. Unfortunately, your organization has made it clear to my team that you intend to move forward with publishing an inaccurate, agenda-driven version of the past, pierced with falsehoods."
In November 2019, BuzzFeed News published a six-part article accusing Robbins of molesting a teenage girl during his time as a "star speaker" at SuperCamp, an elite summer camp in southern California. The article claims the events took place in 1985 when Robbins was 25, and that there were at least two eyewitnesses. Other media outlets also reported on these allegations. Robbins denied wrongdoing and started to sue BuzzFeed News in Ireland. In response, BuzzFeed News said that they stand by their reporting and suggested that Robbins' decision to file the summons in Ireland was an "abuse" of the Irish court.
Television and film
Robbins has played cameo roles in the films Reality Bites, The Cable Guy, and the 2001 film Shallow Hal. He also appeared in The Roseanne Show and an episode of The Sopranos. He plays himself in the 2010 documentary film The Singularity Is Near: A True Story About the Future.
In July 2010, NBC debuted "Breakthrough with Tony Robbins", a reality show that followed Robbins as he helped the show's participants face their personal challenges. NBC canceled the show after airing two of the planned six episodes due to low viewership of 2.8 million. In March 2012, the OWN Network picked up the show for another season beginning with the original first season set to re-run and thereafter leading directly into the new 2012 season. In April 2012, Robbins began cohosting Oprah's Lifeclass on the OWN Network.
In 2015, filmmaker Joe Berlinger directed and produced the documentary Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru, about the Tony Robbins event "Date with Destiny" after filming it in Boca Raton, Florida, in December 2014. It premiered at the South by Southwest film festival in March 2016 and opened the American Documentary Film Festival (AmDocs) in Palm Springs in February 2016. The documentary was translated into languages for 190 countries and released by Netflix on July 15, 2016.
In 1984, Robbins married Rebecca "Becky" Jenkins after meeting her at a seminar. Jenkins had three children from two former marriages, whom Robbins adopted. Robbins and Jenkins filed for divorce in 1998.
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