'Antisemitic' abuse at Salita match

By Faga Speker, Jonathan Kalmus and Jessica Elgot, December 7, 2009
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The rabbi who accompanied boxer Dmitriy Salita to his fight against Amir Khan has expressed his shock at antisemitic abuse levelled at the Orthodox boxer and his supporters.

During the fight an Orthodox man was assaulted and abuse was hurled at Salita as he made his way to the ring.

The man from Manchester suffered a cut face when a drinks can was hurled at him along with antisemitic abuse during the Salita boxing match.

“After 76 seconds it was all hell let loose,” said the 45-year-old who wore a kippah to the fight.

“Four guys were being held back by their friends from jumping on me. They were really surging to get me with hate on their faces. They were shouting f---ing Jew, any swear word you can think of and making any gesture you can think of. I've never been so frightened in my life. ”

The father, from Salford, also claims to seeing two Palestinian flags confiscated from supporters by stewards at the Metro Radio Arena venue.

“Some of the crowd were very friendly, but others were snarling. I didn’t report the incident to the police, I just wanted to get home.

“I’ve been at football matches, I’ve never been amongst so much hate in my life. Muslim men of 20 and 30 years old were shouting abuse. They weren’t kids. There was proper hate I’ve never experienced in England before.”

“I think some are using him as a trophy and giving themselves a lot of pride that they’ve beaten the Jews.”

Rabbi Dovid Lewis of Newcastle United Hebrew Congregation accompanied Salita from his dressing room to the ring, where he was defeated in 76 seconds by title holder Khan.

He said: “We were shocked at the vitriolic abuse shouted at Dmitriy from both sides of the throng on the walkway to the ring.

“It was antisemitic swearing and spitting with a lot of pushing and pulling they were baying for him at this point, although the general crowd was good-humoured and calm.

"Dmitriy was stunned but not hurt, we returned to his hotel and he was visited by a large crowd of supporters, well into the night. As it was a significant day in the Lubavitch calendar, Dmitry showered, put on fresh clothes and his tzitzes and we learned into the night.

More than 200 Jews from New York, London, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow travelled to Newcastle to show their support for Salita.

Salita is to take a break from boxing to go on his honeymoon with bride Alona

Salita is to take a break from boxing to go on his honeymoon with bride Alona

Salita, a Ukrainian émigré who was previously unbeaten in 31 bouts, is an Orthodox Jew who studies at a Chabad yeshiva in Brooklyn. A Star of David decorates his boxing shorts during his fights.

He will now take a break from boxing to go on his honeymoon with bride Alona whom he married in New York at the beginning of September.

A spokesman for the boxing venue Metro Radio Arena said they had not been aware of any abuse during the match.

“We thought was a very successful night and things went really well,” she said.

Last updated: 5:29pm, December 7 2009