Brooklyn’s Yuri (or, in English, George) Foreman, who came here from Belarus by way of Israel, defeated previous champion Daniel Santos last night to win the WBA Super Welterweight title. Foreman, who is studying to be a rabbi, is the first israeli to win a world championship title.
Foreman, who started fighting at seven when he was bullied at school, left Belarus for Israel after the Chernobyl accident. From age 16 on, he traveled two hours a day to train in an arab gym, where he says the love of boxing overcame any religious or cultural obstacles. After winning three national amateur championships in Israel, he came here to take the next step.
Foreman is married to Leyla Leidecker, a model/director he met at Gleason’s Gym (she boxes too). It was Leidecker who set off his interest in studying Judaism after she googled “Kaballah” and found Dov Ber Binson, the Chabad rabbi he studies with. He hopes eventually to return to Israel and teach Judaism to Russian immigrant kids like he was.
Last night’s victory was Foreman’s 28th, with 8 knockouts. So far, he’s undefeated.