Despite the legitimacy of the belt he won with his unanimous decision win over the towering Alexander Ustinov on Saturday night, Lebanon-born Manuel Charr made one quite astonishing comeback. Charr, long based in his adopted country of Germany – the country giving him, he says, “everything” – claimed a version of the WBA heavyweight title on Saturday night, but the win itself meant way more than the belt.
Charr, a gutsy warrior who is unafraid of getting in there with the best, was shot in the stomach in September of 2015, quite literally left fighting for his life. Then, earlier this year, 33 year old Charr had BOTH hips replaced. It’s no stretch to say Charr’s ability to climb into the ring and fight, and win, is nothing short of incredible.
“In the last two years I have experienced everything that one possibly can,” Charr said to The Local after Saturday’s big win. “From being shot to having two new hips, but I gritted my teeth. The doctors told me, it’s a medical miracle.”
Over the long history of this great sport, we have seen a number of astoundingly courageous ring returns from fighters who were injured outside of the ring, told they would never fight again: Vinnie Pazienza’s name springs to mind, “The Pazmanian Devil” being told after his 1990s car smash that he would never walk again, let alone fight again. While the recent bravery shown by Danny Jacobs in battling cancer was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
And now we can add Charr’s name to the list of fistic heroes. Aside from coming back from his severe injuries, Charr, 31-4(17) also made a little bit of boxing history with the win over Ustinov – becoming the first German fighter to win a version of the world heavyweight title since the great Max Schmeling way back in the 1930s. It really is hard not to feel good about Charr and his accomplishments, and we must all wish him the absolute best for the future.
Despite his newly won title being one that adds confusion to the already muddled heavyweight division (the man on the street is simply unable to tell you who the world heavyweight champion is, and that’s never going to be a good thing), Charr’s win of November 25 cannot fail to be cheered.
Who knows how much more “Diamond Boy” can achieve in his exciting boxing career. Might Charr wind up facing a returning Tyson Fury next year? Fury was impressed with Charr’s performance/win on Saturday, as he told Gareth A Davies of The Telegraph; adding how he would like to fight th “regular” WBA belt holder when he comes back.