Amputee ex-paratrooper takes up boxing

mike lewis
mike lewis Image credit:

You may presume taking on a boxer with a disability is quite one-sided, but Mike Lewis is up for the challenge.

His time as a British paratrooper was cut short when a member of his own side accidentally dropped an artillery shell on the 36-year-old’s right leg blowing it off in the process.

Now living as an amputee Mike is stepping into the ring with anybody foolish enough to think they can win him at a boxing match.

However, Lewis hasn’t just taken up the sport for the hell of it, his new pastime is raising money for The Royal British Legion, Blesma and Support Our Paras.

The three charities literally put Mike back on his feet by giving him the medical treatment he needed, helping improve CV skills, creating a wet room in his home and even donating a chopping board adapted for his requirements.

He said he was in “a dark place” when he was discharged from the army and almost became a “social hand grenade” if it wasn’t for a handful of organisations.

Mike had to have his leg amputated below the right knee after a 105mm air burst exploded, which was meant for the Taliban in 2008.

He also had to undergo 40 operations to save his arm.

Lewis told Sky News: "I didn't hear the bang. Then everything was dusty and I looked over and saw my boot by the wall and saw my foot was gone and my arm was mangled.

"My biggest concern was my weapon. My rifle was bent and that meant I was vulnerable. I tried to crawl towards the medic but he was in shock and couldn't help me."

Mike’s life was saved when two of his riflemen rushed to his side to give emergency support before he was airlifted to the nearest hospital.

Surgeons discovered a four-inch piece of shrapnel had been rubbing against Lewis’ skull when they removed his helmet.

Speaking about the life-changing accident Mike said: "It was the most embarrassing day of my army career. I had done 12 years as a parachute regiment soldier and now I was not able to use the weapons system, which is like second nature to a paratrooper and you don't even have to look.

"I couldn't even take the magazine off the rifle. I couldn't even press the safety catch.

"I had all these occupational therapists there, weapons specialists, my commanding officer, my regimental sergeant major all there watching me not being able to do this."

He added: "Without the support from the charities I would be in a very, very dark place, definitely. I was quite bitter over how I'd been injured. I had survived a number of Taliban attacks, even IEDs, and to be hit by your own in the line of fire, I was bitter about it for a few years.

"I wasn't suicidal, I was just angry. Very angry. If anyone said anything to me it would be a very blunt answer back and I'd be very aggressive towards then. If I came out of that war-fighting regiment without that support, I would have been a social hand grenade. Especially with drinking and everything else like that. With all that help, I've avoided that.”

Mike’s new venture will not be included under England Boxing regulations which does not permitted physically disabled people to participate in the sport but Lewis said he would be up for stepping into the ring for the Paralympics or the Invictus Games if the game is introduced.

Head of community development at England Boxing, Ron Tulley, said: “This could lead sometime in the future to a sufficient mass of disabled boxers so that fair matches can take place based on age, experience and disability. Safety of boxers will at all times be the most important factor in offering competitive boxing."

Mike Lewis has already raised £6,000 for charity.