Monday, November 28, 2022

Partially Paralyzed BJJ Fighter Competes Against Non-Disabled Fighters

Leo Sammarelli is making history and inspiring others by competing in BJJ tournaments following being paralyzed.

A man from North Vancouver, Canada is doing what no one else in that area has ever done before. Leo Sammarelli was an aspiring boxer and mixed martial artist before an accident paralyzed him from the waist down. Not willing to give up his love of martial arts and competing, Sammarelli is back on the mats and competing against non-disabled fighters.

He recently competed in the All Versus All Grappling Tournament in Canada. During this event, he was matched with non-disabled fighters but held his own. He was met with cheers from the crowd and although he did not win his two fights, the success of getting back on the mats was almost as good as a victory in his eyes.

“I think they’ve never seen anything like that or that they never even thought it was possible for someone like me to compete and hold my ground against some of these opponents,” Sammarelli said to Global News.

@sammarelli on Instagram

Sammarelli And His Coach Are Starting An Adaptive Form Of BJJ

Sammarelli’s accident came when he was shot in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police target shooting exercise that went wrong. The RCMP claimed that the incident was due to “mistaken identity.” He was shot in the back which left him paralyzed from the waist down. He was back in the gym and using his wheelchair to hit pads.

Sammarelli started a nonprofit organization to called Westcoast Wheelchair Adaptive Boxing to help other athletes like himself get back in the gym. Along with his coach Meego Ward-Yassin of HERO Athletics, they are helping fighters with disabilities learn martial arts and help them find competitions.

“I think that’s the biggest victory I came away from that day is showing people that no matter what has happened to you, that shouldn’t stop you,” he said.

HERO Athletics is now an all-inclusive gym. They have programs for athletes with disabilities and offer training scholarships for fighters with adaptive needs.

What do you think of this amazing comeback story?