Losing a limb, whether because of an accident or due to combat, changes everything.
One won’t be able to do some things that require a complete set of limbs to do. But one ex-paratrooper didn’t let a missing leg stop him from taking up boxing and even successfully competing and knocking opponents out in the ring.
Corporal Michael Lewis, 36, was in the 2 Para in Afghanistan when his right lower leg was blown off during a firefight at 4 am. He also nearly lost his left arm in that engagement.
Meet Michael in the video below.
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Video credit: Rumble
Although severely injured, his squadmates carried him for one mile in a stretcher in an amazing emergency evacuation. Twenty-four hours later, Michael was in a military hospital in London, alive but missing his right leg below the knee.
That can be depressing news for anyone but Michael was a born fighter and promised he “wouldn’t go down without a fight.” Thanks to a new sports blade prosthetic called the Challenger, Michael took up boxing and thrived.
It was difficult finding an opponent at first because nobody wanted to be seen as beating up – or being beaten by – a disabled boxer. An opponent was eventually found and although Michael lost that match, his performance convinced matchmakers that it was worth getting him more fights.
Michael won his second match with a spectacular 98-second knockout, although he lost his third.
Michael, from Northampton, said: “There’s a window of time after a casualty where you either sink or swim. I’m a fighter by discipline, and I won’t go down without a fight.
“My first fight was in March, which I lost because it was all new to me. The guy I was up against was experienced – and 20 kg heavier than me.
“In fact, before my first fight, I had a hard time trying to find a rival, because people either didn’t want to beat a disabled boxer or lose to one.
“But since March, the phone just hasn’t stopped ringing. All sorts of people have called saying they would like to give fighting me a go.
“I won my second fight in June, in the first round – a knock-out in one minute and 38 seconds. I was astonished by what happened.”
Following his injuries in Afghanistan, Michael went on a long road towards rehabilitation and was medically discharged in March 2012. Throughout that time, The Royal British Legion and Support Our Paras gave him much-needed support.
Because of that, Michael “felt a strong sense of obligation towards doing what I can now to help these amazing charities do the amazing work they do.”
In October 2014, he started working as a fundraiser for The Royal British Legion and also assists in raising funds for the Poppy Appeal.
Michael said: “Boxing was something new that I could learn and throw myself into. It helped with my rehabilitation and was a real challenge.
“I’ve always been fitness-minded. But when I started boxing, I would be throwing up during training sessions for the first weeks.”