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Jewogle - Yuri Foreman

Yuri Foreman

Yuri Foreman

Yuri Foreman (born August 5, 1980) is a Belarusian-born Israeli professional boxer, based in the United States.He is a former World Boxing Association (WBA) super welterweight champion. Foreman turned professional in January 2002 in the Junior Middleweight Division and remained undefeated for 29 fights until June 5, 2010, in which he lost by TKO in the ninth round to Miguel Cotto.

Early life

Foreman was born in Gomel, Belarus, then part of the Soviet Union. He started out as a swimmer, but his mother signed him up for boxing lessons at age seven after he experienced anti-Semitic bullying and beatings. At age nine, he emigrated with his family to Israel. Boxing was not popular in Israel and there were few boxing gyms so he trained at an Arab gym. On his early days in boxing, Foreman said:

"The first time I walked in, I saw the stares. In their eyes, there was a lot of hatred. But I needed to box; and boy, did they all want to box me. After a while, the wall that was between us melted. We all wanted the same thing. I traveled with them as teammates. It helped that I won almost all the time. And finally, we became friends."

In Israel he became an amateur boxer and won three national boxing championships. In 1999, Foreman moved to Brooklyn, New York. His first job was in the Garment District in Manhattan, where he made deliveries and swept the floors for a clothing store. At the same time, he began training at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, where he met his future wife, Leyla Leidecker, a Hungarian model and amateur boxer.

Amateur career

In 2000, Foreman lost the New York Golden Gloves in the final, but came back in 2001 to win the tournament. During his amateur career, Foreman compiled a 75–5 record.

Professional career

At the onset of his professional career, Foreman's management team was unsuccessful procuring appropriate fights. Foreman struggled financially. Around 2004, Foreman met Murray Wilson who became his manager. Wilson signed Foreman up with Bob Arum's Top Rank promotion company.

Light middleweight

On June 3, 2006, Foreman defeated Jesus Felipe Valverde, but tore ligaments in his left hand in the process. His next scheduled fight was June 9, 2007 facing the favored Anthony Thompson (23 (17 KOs)-2-0) of Philadelphia in Madison Square Garden on the undercard of the Miguel Cotto-Zab Judah fight. Prior to the fight, Foreman moved his training grounds from Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn to Joe Grier's gym in Paterson, New Jersey. Foreman won a tactical 10-round split decision, with the scores 97–93 and 96–94 for Foreman, and 96–94 for Thompson. Representatives for Germany-based 70-kg (154-pound) titlist Sergei Dzindziruk scouted the fight, with the intention of offering a title shot to the winner. In September 2007, he was ranked as the 8th-best welterweight (67 kg, or 147 pounds) challenger by the World Boxing Association.

In December 2007, Foreman won a 10-round split decision over Andrey Tsurkan (25–3; 16 KOs), to take the North American Boxing Federation super welterweight title from him at the Paradise Theater on Grand Concourse in The Bronx, New York City.

In April 2008 he beat 28–4–0 Saúl Román in a unanimous decision. While training for the fight, he was also studying to become a rabbi. In October 2008, he defeated Vinroy Barrett (22–7, 11 KOs) from Kingston, Jamaica on the Hopkins-Pavlik undercard.

Foreman defeated James Moore (16–1; 10 KOs), in a 10-round unanimous decision for Foreman’s NABF title at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on December 13, 2008. In the five outings leading up to the Moore fight, Foreman won decisions over fighters with a cumulative record of 118–17–2.

WBA title

On November 14, 2009, Foreman defeated Daniel Santos by a 12-round unanimous decision to become the new WBA super welterweight champion and Israel's first WBA champion. He also became Israel's first world boxing champion. In early January 2010, Foreman began talks with Bob Arum to arrange for himself and Filipino boxer seven-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, to meet on March 13, 2010. However, Pacquiao rejected the offer.

Foreman fought Miguel Cotto on June 5, 2010, the first fight to take place at the new Yankee Stadium. Foreman went down from a slip in the 7th Round when his already braced, right knee buckled. He got back to his feet and continued fighting despite heavily favoring the knee. After a few more falls from the knee giving out and Cotto beginning to land, Foreman's trainer Joe Grier threw in the towel midway through the 8th Round. The ring filled with both camps and officials. Cotto and Foreman embraced, thinking it was over. Feeling that Foreman was in no immediate danger, however, Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. asked him if he wanted to continue, and he did. While the crowd was not sure what was happening, the ring was cleared after a delay of a couple of minutes and the fight resumed with about half the round remaining. Cotto landed a left hook to the body and Foreman went down 42 seconds into the 9th Round and Mercante called off the fight. In interviews after the fight, Cotto said "He was working on one leg, but I still kept fighting.”

When asked why he continued after injuring his leg, Foreman said: "I'm a world champion -- now a former world champion -- and you don't just quit ... A world champion needs to keep on fighting." A week after the fight, Foreman underwent surgery on his right knee to repair a torn ACL and Meniscus and to remove torn cartilage around his knee joint. The injury which had occurred when he was 15 years old, was aggravated during the bout. Foreman was told by doctors to take off for a year, but was boxing again nine months later. On March 2, 2011, he battled Polish Light Middleweight boxer Pawel Wolak, and lost. Shortly after the fight, Foreman said he wasn't sure if he was going to continue fighting or retire. As of November 2011, he still hasn't formally announced his decision, although he has no fights scheduled at the moment.

Jewish heritage and rabbinic studies

Foreman, "the first Orthodox Jew to own a world title since Barney Ross held championships in two divisions in 1935", is one of three top contemporary Jewish boxers. The others are Dmitry Salita (30–1–1), a junior welterweight, and heavyweight Roman Greenberg (27–1–0).

In the post-fight interview of his December 2007 win over Andrey Tsurkan, Foreman raised his hands and wished the television audience a happy Chanukah. Foreman, who wears a Star of David on his boxing trunks, is an aspiring rabbi. "Boxing is sometimes spiritual in its own way", he said. "You have the physical and mental challenges in boxing, just like you have lots of challenges in exploring the different levels of Judaism. They are different but the same."

Foreman studies the Talmud and Jewish mysticism in the morning, trains for boxing in the afternoon and attends rabbinical classes twice a week at the IYYUN Institute, a Jewish educational center in Gowanus. "Yuri is a very good student", said Rabbi DovBer Pinson, an author and lecturer who is Foreman's teacher. "Most people (in the class) who find out that he's a boxer are very surprised. He doesn't have that boxing personality, at least in the perception of what a boxer is. He's not the rough kid on the block. He's a sweet, easy-going kid."

TV and film

Foreman has appeared numerous times in nationally televised fights on ESPN, Showtime, HBO and Versus, and on talk shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live. He appeared in the film Fighting, which starred Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard.


Foreman's wife since 2004, Leyla Leidecker., a native of Hungary who converted to Judaism, is making a documentary about women's amateur boxing in the Golden Gloves. The couple has one child.

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