Thu, Nov 08, 2012 - Page 19 News List

FEATURE: Two years after attack, el-Halabi is to box again

AFP, ULM, Germany

Germany’s former boxing world champion, Rola el-Halabi, poses after a press conference in Ulm, Germany, on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Germany’s former boxing world champion Rola el-Halabi is set to fulfill her dream in January to box again, nearly two years after she was gunned down by her stepfather in a vicious attack.

The 27-year-old el-Halabi, who won the women’s IBA and IBF lightweight titles in 2009, is scheduled to climb into the ring on Jan. 13 when she takes on Italy’s Lucia Morelli in Ulm for the vacant IBA lightweight title.

However, el-Halabi’s life was turned upside down on April 1 last year when her stepfather and former manager, Hicham el-Halabi, shot her in her right hand, left knee and both feet in her dressing room before she was due to box in Berlin.

The attack came after she terminated his management contract in January last year. He also shot two security guards before being arrested at the stadium.

In November last year, he was jailed for six years.

Her injuries left her in a wheelchair for three months, but she says her dream is to become a world champion again, but she is happy just to climb into the ring once more.

“This has been my dream and I wanted to live it again. It’s like a second birth. This is like Christmas, a birthday and Easter all rolled into one,” el-Halabi said.

The Beirut-born boxer, who lives in Ulm, Bavaria, says she had plenty of motivation to fight again.

“Actually, I have always been motivated to take the hard path, I never had anyone who has done something for me and I am taking this will to win into the fight,” she said.

“I always said I will stop boxing at the peak of my career and April 1 was definitely not that. I didn’t retire then and that has motivated me to keep fighting and always has,” she added.

El-Halabi said her fiance has helped her through her tough journey back to full fitness, but she has no plans to stay in contact with her stepfather.

“We have absolutely no contact,” she said. “The last time I saw him was during the trial and I don’t intend to establish contact.”

“I am just concentrating on myself, he has already been inside for a year. How things will be later, I don’t know, but it’s not something I think about because it’s too stressful for me. I am just doing my thing and my boxing, he has no place in that,” she added.

El-Halabi says a simple 5km run, just after surgery for her injuries, was part of her inspiration to fight again.

“There were many points on the road back, but from a sporting perspective, a 5km run I did in September last year was certainly part of it. Before that, I had been sat in a wheelchair for three months and I just wanted to get through it. I ran in terrible weather, the scars on my body, everything hurt like hell, but I got through it and that was proof for me: I could still bite,” she said.

With a world title on the line, el-Halabi says the goal for her second career is to lift her arms in the air after victory in the ring.

“In any case, I want to be a world champion again,” she said. “I have said I want to box internationally in front of 5,000 people in Germany and fill a stadium, and my big dream was to box in Ulm again. I want to fulfill that dream and then as a winner, I can say, OK, that was great. That’s enough.”

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