Harry “THUMBS” Chubb
His ninja name is “Harry Thumbs” for his longer than normal fifth digits. The fourth grader became a ninja at the age of six when he attended the birthday party of a friend of his older brother, Toby (who started ninja-ing alongside Harry in November). Previously a gymnast, Harry found a better match in the more freestyle nature of ninja.
“Gymnastics is very disciplined. Ninja has the same sort of skills, but you literally chuck yourself through it,” said mom Ayesha Chubb. Both Harry and his mom also liked the way ninja didn’t put limitations on the kids. “If Harry wanted to try it, they were never going to say no. They were going to make sure he was safe, but they were going to let him do it. That’s how he got really good really quick.”
Not setting limits has been a theme of Harry’s entire nine years. Born eight weeks premature in an emergency delivery, Harry could not breathe on his own and is only alive because of NICU physician Dr. Gregor Alexander, Ayesha said. Harry has had chest infections throughout childhood, and doctors warned that he might never be able to do sports, but as his mom says, “Harry doesn’t like having limitations. He likes to surpass them all.”
Also a flag football player with the nickname “The Beast,” he competed in the 2021 American Ninja Warrior Junior competition, but wasn’t able to talk about his performance at the time of the writing of this article. As a nine-year-old, he was one of the youngest competitors.
Mom Ayesha and dad Dave bring Harry and Toby to competition classes at ONA Tuesday and Thursday evenings so they can train with RJ.
“When Harry started, we had a ten foot rock wall, and he was terrified of it,” RJ recalled. “Watching him now, you’d never know it.”
Harry’s favorite part about Ninja: “I like to fly through the air.” His favorite obstacle is the Wingnuts, where athletes use a trampoline to boost them up to a line of parallel swinging T-shaped handholds. They must swing sideways across all of them before dismounting.
He also likes the Salmon Ladder where contestants hang from a bar that they must unseat and “jump” up to various higher levels, and the Warped Wall, a 13 foot steeply curving wall that athletes clamber to the top of (the gym is in the middle of an expansion that will include a standard 14.5 foot Warped Wall as well as an 18 foot Mega Wall— just like in the TV Show). The most challenging obstacles for Harry, as with many ninjas, are the balance obstacles.
But, as with many things in life, you get better with practice and Harry has no problem with that. “If I can’t do something then I would spend one hour doing that obstacle straight and I would finally get it. RJ would help.”
Look for Harry on Episode 5 of the 2021 American Ninja Warrior Junior competition on Peacock.