Yuri Foreman is Israel's first boxing world champ

By Danny Caro, November 16, 2009
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Yuri Foreman became the first Israeli boxing world champion when he defeated Daniel Santos of Puerto Rico to take the WBA junior middleweight at the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas.

Foreman, a Belarus-born Israeli who has lived in Brooklyn for 10 years is studying to be an Orthodox rabbi. He won the 12-round bout by a unanimous decision - 116-110, 117-109 and 117-10.

Foreman, 29, went into the fight with a perfect 27-0 record. He was up against Santos, who had 32 victories to his name - 23 by knockout, three losses and one draw.

Santos was the favorite but Foreman got his tactics spot on and had the edge throughout as his quick feet and superior fitness proved decisive.

Foreman said: "I worked hard for months to be at the peak of fitness. They were very exhausting, difficult months to both study for the rabbinate and practice, but now I know the hard work paid off and proved itself."

"It's a fact we had 12 tough rounds, but thank God every time I got back into the ring for more I said prayers in my heart, and it worked.

“If you ask me what my strength is, I'll tell you it's in my brain. I run around the ring and keep thinking. I think I need to prove to everyone, not just myself, to the whole world that Jews know how to fight, that Jews know how to give a good fight and not surrender. I said it right after the fight, when they pushed the microphones at me and the cameras clicked. I said I wanted to prove that Jews are not a weak people that can be made to bend down and surrender, that Jews know how to fight and win. Actually, there are a lot of Jewish champions in the history of sports."

As well as the WBA belt, Foreman took home $41,250.

"It was arranged before the fight that the champ would get 60 percent of the proceeds and I would get 40 percent," he explained. "But it doesn't matter much because in the next bout I'll come into the ring as world champion, and then I'll get the majority and my rival will have to settle for a smaller share."

"I want to forget about boxing for a few good weeks. Later we'll start planning the next move. Now I want to enjoy a little quiet when I can dedicate myself to my rabbinic studies and enjoy having a world crown."

Last updated: 10:25am, November 18 2009