Tag Archives: Boxing

Jew of the Week: Carolina Duer

World Boxing Champion

Carolina Duer (Credit: Jonathan Gilbert)

Carolina Duer (Credit: Jonathan Gilbert)

Carolina Raquel Duer (b. 1978) was born in Argentina, the daughter of Syrian-Jewish immigrants. She went to a Jewish school growing up, spent time on an Israeli kibbutz, and frequented the Buenos Aires Maccabi club. When once visiting a gym with a friend, she was spotted by a boxing coach, and agreed to be trained by him. She soon became an amateur boxer, winning 19 of 20 matches, while also working as a waitress in her family’s restaurant. By 2010, Duer had become a professional boxer and won the world’s super flyweight championship. This made her the first female Jewish boxing champion. She defended the title six times before moving on to the bantamweight division in 2013 and winning that world title, too. After defending her title yet again in 2014, Duer took time off to focus on her family. She became a boxing announcer on Argentine television in the mean time. Incredibly, not long after having a baby, Duer returned to the ring earlier this year and won the International Boxing Federation’s bantamweight title. She is now among the greatest Jewish boxers (male or female) of all time. Duer has been nicknamed “The Turk” and “Iron Barbie”. In her spare time, she often volunteers with disadvantaged youth, and has said, “I do a lot of work with kids on the street. I explain to them that boxing isn’t violent. It can be used to give them focus. It’s good for both body and mind.”

Words of the Week

Transgressions of man towards God – Yom Kippur atones for them. Transgressions of man towards man – Yom Kippur does not atone for them until one seeks forgiveness from one’s fellow
– Talmud, Yoma 85b

Jews of the Week: Imi Lichtenfeld and Roy Elghanayan

Krav Maga & The Jewish Bruce Lee

Lichtenfeld

Lichtenfeld

Imre Lichtenfeld (1910-1998) was born in Budapest and grew up in Bratislava. His father was a police chief inspector who also owned the Hercules Gymnasium where he taught acrobatics and self-defense. Training under his father, Lichtenfeld became Slovakia’s Wrestling Champion, Boxing Champion, and Gymnastics Champion. In response to rising anti-Semitism in the 1930s, he put together a group of Jewish boxers that defended local communities from thugs. He realized that his training was of little help in real-life combat situations, so he started developing a new system of self-defense based on practical techniques, natural motions, and “simultaneous defense and attack”. In 1940, Lichtenfeld left Czechoslovakia due to the Nazi invasion and joined the Free Czech Legion, fighting alongside the British Army in North Africa. After two years of distinguished service, he finally made his way to Israel, and was immediately recruited to train the fighters of Haganah and Palmach (the Jewish defense groups that later became the IDF). His very effective self-defense system became known as Krav Maga – “contact combat” or “close combat”. With the formation of the State of Israel in 1948, Lichtenfeld (now better known by his Hebraicized name Imi Sde-Or) was appointed the IDF’s Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness and Krav Maga. He served in this role for the next 20 years, then shifted his focus to training Israeli police, while also opening two training centres for the general public in Tel-Aviv and Netanya. In 1995, he founded the International Krav Maga Federation.

Elghanayan (courtesy: bjjlegends.com)

Elghanayan (courtesy: bjjlegends.com)

Perhaps the best-known Krav Maga expert today is Roy Elghanayan (b. 1984), nicknamed the “Jewish Bruce Lee”. He began his training in Krav Maga and martial arts at an early age, and his skills were quickly recognized when he joined the IDF. He soon became the Chief Instructor of Krav Maga for the Israeli Special Forces. He holds a 4th Degree Black Belt, and is recognized as Israel’s Official International Ambassador for Authentic Krav Maga. He is also the only person to hold two Israeli Krav Maga national championship titles. Over the years, he has developed his own unique style, and has taught self-defense all over the world, including to the LAPD and the CIA. He currently runs a Krav Maga club in Los Angeles, and has also choreographed fights for some Hollywood films. When asked about the secret ingredient in his diet, he answered: “I only eat kosher protein”. Click here to see Elghanayan in action.

Words of the Week

Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the face.
– Mike Tyson

Jew of the Week: Daniel Mendoza

The Father of Modern Boxing

Daniel Mendoza - Father of Modern Boxing

Daniel Mendoza – Father of Modern Boxing

Daniel Mendoza (1764-1836) was born in England to a Jewish family of Portuguese descent. Little is known of his early life. At 16, he was working for a tea company, and stepped in to protect his employer from a client. It is reported that the bout lasted 45 minutes until the much older and larger assailant could no longer continue. The young Mendoza became a local hero. He was soon drawn to the sport of boxing and found a mentor. By 1788 he had won 27 bare-knuckle boxing matches, all by knockout. By 1792 he had become the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of England, despite being just 160 pounds and officially designated a middleweight. He went on to become the first middleweight in history to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Mendoza’s immense success lay in his revolutionary tactics. Until this point, boxing typically consisted of a series of punches and very little movement. Mendoza developed a form of boxing based on defensive principles like ducking and blocking instead of just offence. He is credited with inventing the side-step, and developing the strategy of wearing down an opponent. Later, Mendoza opened his own boxing school and wrote a book called The Art of Boxing where he described the sport as a science. He traveled across Great Britain to teach his methods, inspiring a new generation of boxers. For all of these reasons, among others, he has been called “the father of modern boxing”, and not surprisingly, was first to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Mendoza was also instrumental in changing the stereotypical European image of the “weak Jew”, and was the first Jew to have an audience with King George III. Both a play and film have been made about his life.

Words of the Week

When you are not practicing, remember that someone, somewhere, is practicing, and when you meet him, he will win.
– Ed Macauley

1788 Illustration of Mendoza’s match with Richard Humphreys