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Jewish Journal

Orthodox rabbinical student wins boxing title

by Brad A. Greenberg

November 16, 2009 | 9:20 am

Yuri Foreman (Photo: Al Bello / Getty Images)

Good thing it’s getting dark early these days. Saturday night, after Shabbat had ended, Yuri Foreman won the WBA junior middleweight crown—after 12 rounds becoming the first Israeli to grab a boxing title belt:

“Before I entered the ring my wife, Leyla, told me: ‘Yuri, can I ask you something? Do me a favor, finish it quickly with a knockout,’” he told his father. “I knew why she asked me this, I knew it’s hard for her to see me in a fight long enough to take several blows. I also thought I wanted to end it with a knockout.”

Foreman told his father how he prayed and said Pslams until he had his rival on the ropes, losing his balance. “I saw him wobbling,” he said. “I knew another blow or two and I would send him to the floor and win with a knockout, but then the bell sounded, ending the round and saving him.”

Foreman is a rare combination of power and smarts. He comes from a poor family that immigrated to Israel after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His father works in Haifa as a mechanic, but Yuri moved to New York nearly a decade ago. A few years later, he began studying in a Brooklyn yeshiva to become an ordained Orthodox rabbi.

He has a very strict schedule, studying Torah in the morning and doing intense physical training both inside and out of the ring in the afternoon. He does a lot of weight lifting, running and fitness training.

I previously mentioned Foreman in a post about boxing’s Jewish history. It’s rich. Just like basketball.

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