Obed Hrangchal, 28, a mixed martial arts and kickboxing champion in his native India who is now a yeshiva student in the Israeli city of Ma’alot, recently became his new country’s kickboxing champion at a national competition.
Competing in the 57-kg. (125-pound) division, Hrangchal took the championship in an event drawing 150 competitors from clubs throughout Israel.
“I am very happy with this win. I always dreamt of making aliyah [immigrating to Israel] and becoming an Israeli champion. I now dream of representing Israel in international kickboxing competitions,” Hrangchal said.
Hrangchal is a religiously observant member of the Bnei Menashe community, descendants of one of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel. He grew up in Aizawl, a city of 300,000 in the northeastern India state of Mizoram.
“I started practicing martial arts from about 6 years old, but without proper instruction,” said Hrangchal. “I steadily improved and then I began to compete at the state level in 2014, when I competed in Chinese kickboxing, or wushu, and won second place. That same year, I began to study mixed martial arts under an instructor.”
He won awards from the Mizoram State Sport Council and the Mizoram State Wushu Association, which are affiliated with the Indian Olympic Association as well as the International Olympic Committee.
David Ramon, Hrangchal’s coach at the Ramon Gym Club in Ma’alot, expects his student to earn a spot on Israel’s national team and compete in the Senior Kickboxing World Championship in Portugal in November.
“Obed is a charming and well-liked guy with an extraordinary sporting talent who trains very hard,” he said. “I have no doubt that a bright future awaits him.”
Hrangchal and his family immigrated to Israel in 2020 with the assistance of Jerusalem-based organization Shavei Israel. His parents, Gabriel and Ruth Hrangchal, live in Nof HaGalil, near Nazareth.
“Obed is another outstanding example of how the Bnei Menashe can contribute to Israeli society, each in his or her own way,” said Michael Freund, Shavei Israel’s founder and chairman. “I hope that we will soon see him winning medals for Israel worldwide.”
Thus far, more than 5,000 Bnei Menashe have moved to Israel in the past two decades, and another 5,000 remain in India waiting to return after more than 27 centuries in exile.