Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Rabbi Enters Mixed Martial Arts Competition to Promote Security and Fitness

January 14, 2014 5:35 pm 24 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.

24 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.

    • Mitchell Baxter

      Yes, but he’s not looking for a future in fighting.

  • 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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Blogs Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Actress Natalie Portman acted like a typical “Jewish mother” on the set of her latest movie, Jane Got a Gun, the Israeli-born star told the New York Post‘s Page Six on Sunday. The 34-year-old, who also co-produced the western, said she made it her job to look out for everyone involved in the project, because the film has had to overcome “so many obstacles,” such as losing its director early on. She explained: “Actors changed. We suffered financial and legal challenges. We endured so many replacements. There were delays. […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    “We’re looking very much forward to coming back to Israel this summer,” said the lead singer of the German rock band Scorpions in a video on Monday. “Make sure you don’t miss it because we rock you like a hurricane!” said a jovial Klaus Meine, quoting the band’s seminal 1984 anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The hard rock band lands in Israel for a show at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on July 14 as part of its 50th anniversary tour. It will be the band’s third time […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel were the two most immediate and authentic literary voices who gave witness to the Holocaust. Wiesel was an extrovert and a very public figure who wrote initially in French. Levi was a modest retiring chemist who wrote in Italian. Whereas Wiesel was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish Hassidic world, Levi was the product of an assimilated, secular Italian society that saw itself as Italian first and Jewish as an accident of birth. As Levi himself said, “At Auschwitz I […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Lifestyle Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    JNS.org – Wine has long been considered a social lubricant, and it’s Nir Lavie’s hope that wine from his Har Bracha Winery in the Samarian hills will serve as a social lubricant between the city-goers of Tel Aviv and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, two locales split geographically, and often politically, on the left and right of the country. The new flagship store of Har Bracha has recently popped its corks on 190 Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Gentile Actor Zachary Levi Says He’s Denied Roles for Being ‘Too Jewish’

    Gentile Actor Zachary Levi Says He’s Denied Roles for Being ‘Too Jewish’

    Actor Zachary Levi said casting directors have denied him roles for being “too Jewish,” despite the fact that he is not a Jew, the New York Daily News‘ Confidenti@l reported on Wednesday. “I guess they were looking for more of a corn-fed, white boy look,” he said. “My family is from f****** Indiana! Come on, I’m like dying here!” The Thor star clarified that he is Welsh, and that Levi is actually his middle name, while his real last name is Pugh. He said he […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Spirituality/Tradition Tracing Chabad’s History and Success (REVIEW)

    Tracing Chabad’s History and Success (REVIEW)

    The secret of Chabad’s worldwide success is revealed by veteran Chabad shliach (emissary) Rabbi David Eliezrie in his new book, The Secret of Chabad. The Chabad movement was founded by Rabbi Schnur Zalman of Liadi, Belarus, in 1775. Years later it came to the US with the arrival of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn in 1940, after his escape from Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Upon his arrival in New York, a number of his co-religionists advised him that there was no place for traditional […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Rapper B.o.B’s New Song Invoking Antisemitism, Holocaust Denial Has Jewish Group ‘Deeply Troubled’

    Rapper B.o.B’s New Song Invoking Antisemitism, Holocaust Denial Has Jewish Group ‘Deeply Troubled’

    A Jewish human rights organization expressed concern on Wednesday over a new song by a popular US rapper that includes lyrics promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories and cites a Holocaust denier, The Algemeiner has learned. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was responding to Tuesday’s release of B.o.B’s “Flatline,” the lyrics of which include: “But before you try to curve it, do your research on David Irving; Stalin was way worse than Hitler, That’s why the POTUS gotta wear a Kippa.” Irving is a historian who has questioned […]

    Read more →
  • Business Features World-Changing Israeli Technologies Wow at Global Investor Summit

    World-Changing Israeli Technologies Wow at Global Investor Summit

    JNS.org – You’re cruising along the highway. Suddenly, your car starts to sputter, your engine grumbles, and your car comes to a screeching halt. The tow truck drags the car to a local auto mechanic. Damage: $1,000. You have no idea whether or not the mechanic is trying to do one over on you, but you will soon, thanks to a new Israeli innovation. Engie puts the car owner in the driver’s seat by providing a special malfunction reader that simply […]

    Read more →