For the first time, Israel can boast world boxing champions. In the past two months, two Israelis won titles, and the first was Hagar Finer, a 25-year-old woman.

On October 10, in Darmstadt, Germany, Finer became the first Israeli to win a world boxing championship title. In her seventh attempt in ten years, Finer defeated Oksana Romanova in the bantam/flyweight (up-to-112 pounds) category to bring home the coveted belt and the title of Women’s International Boxing Federation world champion.

Women’s boxing is a highly-developed sport in Germany, where 10,000 people routinely attend world championship bouts. Not so in Israel. While in Darmstadt, people stop Finer in the street to request her autograph, at home she is veritably unknown.

Finer, who was 13 when she began training, works out between six and ten hours a day, seven days a week. She suffered a tough childhood in a broken home.

Interviewed by ISRAEL21c two years ago, she said, “If I start something, I have to finish it all the way, until I get to the top.” A martial arts instructor, she has this to say of her chosen sport, “It takes you to places inside your soul and inside yourself that you wouldn’t imagine.”

Yuri Foreman became the second Israeli to claim a professional boxing crown when he won the WBA junior middleweight title on points in mid-November, in Las Vegas.