In April 2011 Rola El Halabi was an undefeated Lightweight boxer (11-0, 6 KOs), waiting in a dressing room to enter the ring for a world championship fight, when her nightmare began. Estranged from a dominating stepfather who previously ran her career and life, she was on the threshold of making a statement by fighting and winning on her own. But she never made it to the ring that night. Her world crashed down around here when Roy Hicham El Halabi entered the dressing room and ordered everyone else to leave, before proceeding to barbarically shoot his stepdaughter in hands, knees and feet.
El Halabi was rushed to hospital, and an almost certain end to a promising boxing career was not as much a concern as the possible loss of her life. While doctors later established that her life would be saved, it very much looked as if her days as an athlete were over.
But the Lebanese-born German proved to be a greater fighter than anyone in the boxing world could have imagined, and on Saturday (January 12) she will return to the ring and fight Italian Lucia Morelli for the vacant World Boxing Federation World Lightweight title, on a show she is herself promoting in the city of Neu Ulm, just across the Donau river from hometown Ulm.
Roy Hicham will not be able to stop her this time! He is serving a six-year prison sentence in Berlin, while Rola is in the process of one of the most amazing comebacks in recent memory. After several operations and months of being confined to a wheelchair, she decided that the actions of a mad-man would not keep her from achieving her dreams.
She was going to turn the nightmare into a fairytale!
“I didn’t want to give up on boxing”, 27-year-old El Halabi recently told German newspaper Die Welt. “April 1 2011 was not a highlight, but it gave me strength to fight, and keep fighting.”
Ironically, Roy Hicham wanted to destroy Rola but ended up making her a bigger star than ever. Before the attack she was not yet a big name in world boxing, or even in Germany, but after countless newspaper articles and talk show appearances following her recovery she is now very well-known, something she intends to use for good:
“I want to spread a message with my story, to never give up no matter what happens. The life I had before April 2011 doesn’t exist anymore, and I am reminded every day when I look in the mirror and see my scares. God has a reason for everything that happens.”
Some would say that returning to the ring in a world title fight against a quality opponent such as former world champion Lucia Morelli (17-3, 8 KOs) is biting off more than El Halabi can currently chew, but she is not concerned about the outcome, saying:
“I don’t worry about losing. If things don’t go my way, my career is not over. But it will be expensive, as I have invested a six-figure amount in the event. But, on the other hand, a boxing match is nothing compared to what I have been through!”
The words of a true fighter, in the ring and in life!