Rabbi Enters Mixed Martial Arts Competition to Promote Security and Fitness

January 14, 2014 5:35 pm 23 comments
Chabad Rabbi Yossi Eilfort, 22, winning his first amateur MMA bout. Photo: Screenshot / Fox News.

Rabbi Yossi Eilfort, 22, winning his first amateur MMA bout. Photo: Screenshot / Fox News.

California based Rabbi Yossi Eilfort, 22, recently won his first amateur Mixed Martial Arts bout, San Diego’s Fox News reported on Tuesday.

His aim in entering the competition was to promote the importance of security and fitness in the Orthodox Jewish community, Eilfort told The Algemeiner. The rabbi said he had previously never hit anyone in his life.

Although not new to martial arts — 12 years ago the young rabbi befriended a Krav Maga instructor — he entered his first “octagon” just six months ago via MMA fighter and judo specialist Thierry Sokoudjou, of Cameroon who trained him at Team Quest Gym, in Encinitas.

Eilfort told Fox News that he wanted the “physical, mental, personal challenge” of MMA, not to hurt people. Of his philosophy, Eilfort said, “I believe if we’re not challenging ourselves, than we’re wasting time.”

His coach said, “I never thought that a rabbi would be interested in fighting. But I was stoked. He never quits.”

Eilfort trained nearly every day while balancing his synagogue duties, Fox News reported. He even trained on Friday mornings, but had to forego a last round of preparation before his big match to observe the Shabbat.

The bout was at Mansion Fights, in a historic North Hollywood house, where he said his trainer joked about dubbing him “The Rabbi” on the fight bill. Ominously, Fox News said, before entering the octagon, he watched as a previous fighter was wheeled out on a gurney.

Some 20 friends, family and members of his congregation came to watch Eilfort swiftly take down his opponent, winning in the second round by technical knockout, or TKO.

“It was very uncomfortable hitting someone,” Eilfort told Fox News. “I actually held back…”

The young athlete told The Algemeiner that his dream is to become a police chaplain, and that he wants to give security and safety seminars to religious students.

23 Comments

  • Congrats for your achievement. Well done.

  • Mazel tov on your achievements and wishing you hatzlacha rabba in all your endeavors. We are proud of you.

  • David Benveniste (HaLevy)

    My father was semi pro and had 52 fights,and went 51-1,and was friends with world champions Max Baer and Primo Carnera. It’s a dirty business,not to mention cauliflower ears,broken noses,fixed fights and potential head injuries .It’s an industry, a meat grinder.

  • Military training and ability to defend oneself and one’s family/community is part of our heritage that many have lost. Kol hakavod that Rabbi E. is reclaiming this.

  • “I actually held back…” That not a good sign for long term future in fighting.

    • He’s holding back because this is not a fight for his safety. There is no doubt that in a fight for his safety he’d fight as hard and strong as he would need until the attacker stopped fighting.
      It shows his character that he doesn’t sensuously beat another man to pul when there is no need.

  • Well done

  • Very good. Kol haKavod. Unfortunately most people in Charedi communities are unaware of importance of physical exercise as well as of importance of knowinghow do defend themselves believing in some non Jewish beliefs that you “Hashem will protect you ” without any actions on your part.

  • I think it’s a great idea that a Rabbi sets an example.

  • Gershon Lehrer

    What is a ‘Rabbi’?

  • Rabbi Fishel Jacobs

    B”H

    MMA is first a discipline. It’s not unlike any other so called ‘combat sport’ disciplines in terms of goals. Specifically, confidence, focus going beyond limitations.

    People have many needs for hobbies. They can include music, art, hiking, reading. Sports, particularly ‘combat’ ones aren’t for everyone. For those who feel they need that, however, there’s no problem. They’re nothing more than a discipline.

  • Sorry to inform you, friends, it’s not about money, or ego, or proving himself. It is about Jewish kids seeing Rabbi Eilfort as a role model. It is about Jewish kids learning to successfully handle themselves when necessary.
    I grew up as a “Zhydovka” (f—ing Jew in Ukranian) in a tough, mean, anti Semitic neighborhood. Those few Jewish kids who could successfully fight back were rarely victimized, wile those who tried to run away from the Jew haters were continually victimized.
    In high school (1960s) and college (1970s), as a member of the wresting team, I was rarely “picked on”, even though I was always in the lightest weight classes … because I could fight back when necessary.
    My sincere best wishes to Rabbi Eilfort in his journey to send a positive message to Jewish kids.

    0

  • Congrats to the Rabbi! Competitive Martial Arts is primarily a chess game. Additionally, a player must have the physical ability to complete the moves he/she wants to make. Admittedly, there is more contact in MMA than most other sports, but please remember it is just that, a sport. I believe he can be a role model to others in his community who wish to train in martial arts. It is lamentable that some “knockout game” victims of Crown Heights did not have any training.

  • Maybe he should teach Jews how to protect themselves from the knockout games?

  • Irving D. Cohen

    It seems ridiculous for him to prove something to himself, but it would seem less so if he were to be suggesting physical training to young Jews to enable them to protect themselves succssfully against the spreading violent antisemitism.

  • Exactly. He talks about proving himself – is there no other way? Or is this all okay because there’s money involved? Does the money magically make it okay? Is there betting involved? What is wrong with this Chabad rabbi and rebbetzin that they missed what every other Jewish parent on the planet knows – this is not a worthy endeavor.

    • Yossi was misquoted when he said “Proving himself”. The message he is trying to get across is not that he can beat someone up. What he is trying to prove is that a normal decent human being can partake in sports such as MMA and remain a decent person. That is why you will notice Yossi doesn’t go full out and beat the opponent to a pulp. That is why he is pulling punches. Theres no need to beat a person up in an arena like this.

  • Better ask a Rabbi if intentional hurting and getting hurt is permissable. I dont think so. No matter how much fun and macho it is.

    • BuckDePublick

      Stop the victim mentality, loser. Any time a Jew knows how to use his (or her) fists and a gun, it’s a good thing!

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish History Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    It’s hard to make a new contribution to the field of Holocaust studies,  but German historian Götz Aly accomplishes just that in Why the Germans, Why the Jews? His premise is that the origins of the Holocaust were rooted in the specific anti-Semitism found in Germany in the decades and centuries before World War II. Aly (who is not Jewish) seeks to prove his theory by studying only pre-Holocaust history, and tracing how the German people’s envy and hatred of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    JNS.org – During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. Many of these [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    JNS.org – Days after winning his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout against Steven Siler on July 26, Israeli-born mixed martial arts competitor Noad Lahat boarded a plane for his native country, choosing to temporarily exit UFC’s octagonal cage to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper for its operation against Hamas in Gaza. Except he didn’t actually consider it a choice. “When [our] home is in danger, there is no other way for us [but to serve [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.