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...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →
  • Analysis Arts and Culture Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    JNS.org – One of the most controversial operas in recent memory, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” debuted Oct. 20 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met has scheduled seven more performances through November. The first staging did not occur without protest, as about 400 demonstrators—including Jewish communal and nationally recognized leaders—came to Lincoln Center to denounce the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera. “Klinghoffer,” the creation of composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, premiered in 1991—with few additional stagings. The opera is based [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.