Germany’s Rola El-Halabi is set to fight for a world title nearly two years after surviving a shooting that left her wheelchair-bound.
The undefeated 27-year-old, who held the WIBA and WIBF lightweight titles in 2009, will face Italy’s Lucia Morelli for the vacant WIBA lightweight championship on Jan. 13 in Ulm, Germany.
The Beirut-born fighter spent three months in a wheelchair after her stepfather and former manager, Hicham El-Halabi, shot her in her right hand, left knee and both feet in the dressing room before a fight with Irma Balijagic Adler in Berlin on April 1, 2011. The attack came two months after El-Halabi had terminated the management contract with her stepfather.
Hicham El-Halabi, who was 44 at the time of the attack, also shot two security guards before he was arrested. He is serving a six-year jail sentence following his conviction in November.
“It’s like a second birth, I didn’t want to say goodbye to this great sport,” El-Halabi told Agence France-Presse. “This is like Christmas, a birthday and Easter all rolled into one.”
El-Halabi credited a run during her arduous rehabilitation process for inspiring her comeback. “There were many points on the road back, but from a sporting perspective, a five-kilometer run I did in September 2011 was certainly part of it,” she said. “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.”
El-Halabi is 11-0 as a professional with six knockouts. She won the WIBF and WIBA world titles in 2009.
– Bryan Armen Graham