Two 18-year-old Orthodox Israelis, Nili Block and Sarah Abraham, have taken world Thai boxing titles.
Ms Block also won first place in her age category in the XIX KickBox World Cup in Hungary, and demonstrated her talent at the 2013 Jerusalem Marathon in the 10K run. She said: “My motto is ‘no pain, no gain.’ I have never wanted to stop.”
According to Ms Block, her parents give her their full support because she acts as “a public sanctification of G-d’s name”.
Ms Abraham has said that she began to learn Muay Thai (Thai boxing) for self-defence. She demonstrated her high level of motivation, saying: “It doesn’t bother me to get hurt. It happens so often, it’s part of life already.”
Ms Abraham’s father pays her airfare for competitions. “Everything else I pay for myself. I do cleaning and I walk dogs to make money,” she said.
Both girls eat kosher food when travelling, and both consult a rabbi on how to handle training on Shabbat.
Ms Block will be inducted into the military and has applied for status as an athlete soldier in order to continue training and competing during her two years in the service. “My goal is to get to the Olympics in regular boxing, and I know I have the potential,” she said. “I have already hired a coach.”
Ms Abraham has accepted a National Service position in Kiryat Arba that will not interrupt her five-day-a-week training schedule.