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.