Yuri Foreman became the second Israeli to claim a professional boxing crown when he defeated Daniel Santos of Puerto Rico to take the WBA junior men’s middleweight title on points last week.
The first Israeli to win a world boxing championship title was 25-year-old Hagar Finer, who became the Women’s International Boxing Federation world champion in Darmstadt, Germany, one month earlier.
Foreman, a Belarus-born Israeli who has lived in Brooklyn for 10 years and is studying to be an Orthodox rabbi, won the 12-round bout by unanimous decision – 116-110, 117-109 and 117-10.
The 29-year-old Foreman called his father in Haifa from Las Vegas after the fight to give him the big news. He told his father how he prayed and said Pslams until he had his rival on the ropes. After the fight he said, “I think I need to prove to everyone… that Jews know how to give a good fight and not surrender.”
Foreman took a 27-0 record into the title fight, while Santos boasted a record of 32 wins – 23 by knockout, three losses and one draw.
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. A few years later, he began studying in a Brooklyn yeshiva to become an ordained Orthodox rabbi.
Check out this ISRAEL21c story about Israeli boxers.