Dmitri)! Salita bits
high hopes fi)- his
Lions Of Judah
Blue-chip boxing prospects Dmitriy Salita and Yuri Foreman
bring the tradition of Jewish boxing into the 21st century.
Special to the Jewish News
t was late May in 1934 at New York City's
Madison Square Garden and Barney Ross was
Welterweight champion Jimmy McLarnin
had just sent Ross crashing to the canvas for the first
time in his career. The rabbi's son from New York got
up, though, and it took him less than a minute to
rally, knock McLarnin down and go on to take the
title in a hard-fought decision.
The legendary ninth round of the first Ross-
McLarnin fight certainly provided some fireworks,
but the sight of a Jewish boxer whacking an opponent
Matt Lee is an assistant editor at "HOUR Detroit"
wasn't exactly unique in those days. From 1903-1938,
in fact, there were at least 26 Jewish champions.
Fast-forward to the year 2000 and things weren't
looking so hot. The last Jewish champ? Mike "The
Jewish Bomber" Rossman, a light heavyweight who
held the title for exactly one fight back in 1978.
Two years later, however, things have changed dra-
matically — thanks to Dmitriy Salita and Yuri.
Foreman, two highly touted, young, Jewish boxers
from the former Soviet Union, both now living in
"I want to be in the Hall of Fame," Salita, 20, says
from his home in Brooklyn. "I want to be one of the
great fighters of all time. Fifteen years from now, •
when I walk into a room, I want people to say, 'Oh
man, this guy, Dmitriy Salita, he used to be a hell of a
Big words, no doubt. But given Salita's credentials,
not inappropriate ones. Born in Odessa, Ukraine,
Salita moved to Brooklyn with his mother, brother
and father at the age of 10. After showing some
promise in karate class, he switched, at his brother's
suggestion, to boxing and ultimately compiled an
amateur record of 59-5. He won the Under-19 U.S.
Ntional Championships in 2000 as well as the 2001
New York Golden Gloves, where he received the
Sugar Ray Robinson Award for most outstanding
boxer of the tournament.
"My style is a boxer-puncher," Salita, 20, says. "It's
a smooth, rhythmic style with a lot of hand-speed."
Yes, it is. And it's effective. So much so that Salita's
been signed by Bob Arum, the promoter behind such
stars as Muhammad Ali, Roberto Duran and Oscar
de la Hoya.
LIONS on page 66