Non-Jewish Mixed Martial Artist Says He Holds Up Tallit After Each Victory as Tribute to ‘God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’
American mixed martial artist Jared Cannonier explained on Wednesday why, despite not being Jewish — and without “putting any title” on his belief system — he has been holding up a tallit after each victory in the ring for the past two years.
“I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” said Cannonier, who is currently competing in the Light Heavyweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. “The [Jewish prayer shawl] is what I use as a tool to remind me that God is my father, that I follow his commandments, and it helps me keep myself in check.”
Asked by a Jewish reporter about the tallit — with the Hebrew word for “God” emblazoned on it — Cannonier, who was raised baptist, said, “I believe in my heart that ‘Yehovah’ (the God of Israel) is real and he has blessed me with the ability to do this and many other things, so I’m gonna keep doing this.”
The 32-year-old said that he has learned a lot about the religion from a coworker who is in the process of converting to Judaism, adding that though he himself has no plans to follow suit, “I believe in the Messiah. I believe in the word [of God].”
Cannonier’s next fight is on Saturday in Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, against Brazilian mixed martial artist Glover Teixeira.
Watch Jared Cannonier’s full interview below.