My name is Erika Novarria.
I was born on the 25th of May, 1990 in Milan, Italy.
I’m going to tell you my story hoping that I can bring some inspiration to those that are going through what I’ve been through and also hoping that I can raise some awareness among non-disabled people.
On the night of the 2nd of October 2009, I had just left the gym after my usual kick-boxing practice session and I was driving my scooter on my way home. At a junction, a car ran a red light and hit me at high speed. That car threw me 50 foot away and left my leg shattered. I then was in a medically induced coma for 3 days and when I finally woke up I found that my leg was gone. When I opened my eyes, my first thought was: “Will I ever be able to get back in the ring?”. As soon as I got my first implant, in January 2010, I went back to practicing kickboxing, but due to complications, in the summer I had to undergo even more surgery on my leg. It was only after this second operation that I started with boxing, joining the OPYGYM under the supervision of an Italian champion, Andrea Sarritzu. Unfortunately in 2013, I was back in hospital for surgery, and let me tell you, it’s not easy to go back to the gym when you have more than 20 stitches in your leg. I went through a tough phase and felt physically and emotionally scarred by all these never ending problems with my leg. I stopped training and stayed away from the ring for a couple of years.
It was only in September 2015 that I decided to go back to OPYGYM as I finally understood that I was missing that smell and that I couldn’t stay away from the punching bags and the ropes any longer. From that point onwards, I told myself: “No one will ever stop me again! I’ll keep fighting for all of this!”. Since then I did a lot of boxing as an amateur but with a serious commitment to raise the bar to the next level: to practice it competitively. I’ve put a lot of sweat, passion, and sacrifice in to it and that worked great, also as a rehabilitation therapy. It all culminated in an event that I will never forget, when the crowd at Teatro Pricipe in Milano welcomed me with open arms for a friendly three round match versus Malù Marenzi, in a night that still inspires me and provides endless meanings to never stop following my dreams.
For all of this I have to thank Andrea Sarritzu, a big champion, who believed in me since day one. It was Andrea that encouraged me since our first phone conversation. He convinced me to get back to the gym and taught me that I should never give up. I’m also thankful to the entire OPYGYM crew who made the exhibition at Teatro Principe a reality.
I hope my story can help those that experienced serious injuries, but also anyone that hasn’t yet had to deal with this sort of setbacks. I hope that they can find some inspiration to start over and to keep fighting, because in life one should NEVER give up. And I especially want to bring hope and support to disabled people, with the hope that my story shows that, no matter what your are going through, if you fight back and believe in yourself, life will smile at you and you will find all the support that you need, whether you are disabled or not.
The main message that I’d like to convey is that sport is the best way to help people and make a positive impact in their lives and keep them motivated. Disabled sports may not be so popular but they are fun, exciting and action packed, and I intend to use all my energy until the governing bodies will establish disabled boxing as a recognized sport and look forward to the day when I will be able to participate in official competitions.
My story is an example of how boxing is such a fantastic sport and has massive potential to help people to recover physically, but even more importantly psychologically, from any kind of traumatic experience in order to re-gain one’s self-esteem and self-confidence.