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September 22, 2020 3:08 pm

Indian Jewish MMA, Kickboxing Champion Set to Immigrate to Israel, Hopes to Join IDF

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Indian MMA and kickboxing champion Obed Hrangchal (center). Photo: Courtesy of Shavei Israel.

A mixed martial arts (MMA) and kickboxing champion from India is slated to fulfill his lifelong dream of immigrating to Israel after the Jewish High Holidays, The Algemeiner has learned.

Obed Hrangchal, 26, will make aliyah with his parents, Gabriel and Ruth Hrangchal, and sister, Lucy, with the help of the non-profit organization Shavei Israel. The family will reside in the northern city of Nof HaGalil.

“I have always dreamt of making aliyah to the Land of Israel and I am very excited at the prospect of doing so,” Obed said in a statement, shared by Shavei Israel. “If possible, I would certainly like to join the IDF and I would be honored to represent Israel in MMA and Kickboxing competitions.”

Obed Hrangchal,. Photo: Courtesy of Shavei Israel.

The religiously-observant athlete – who has won two gold, seven silver and two bronze national medals in wushu, kickboxing, Thai boxing and karate — is a member of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community from northeastern India that claims to be descendants of one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who were sent into exile by the Assyrians more than 27 centuries ago.

Shavei Israel has assisted in the aliyah of more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe members. Another 6,500 remain in India.

“We are very proud of Obed and his impressive accomplishments and we look forward to welcoming him and his family here in Israel along with the 700-plus other Bnei Menashe whom we will be bringing on aliyah in the coming year,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “Obed is another outstanding example of how the Bnei Menashe can contribute to Israeli society and I hope that we will soon see him ascending the stage and winning medals for Israel worldwide.”

Obed has awards in martial arts from the Mizoram State Sport Council and the Mizoram State Wushu Association, affiliates of the Indian Olympic Association and the International Olympic Committee.

“I started practicing martial arts from a very young age, about 6 years old, but without proper instruction,” said Obed. “As I grew up, I steadily improved and then I began to compete at the state level in 2014, when I competed in Chinese kickboxing or wushu and won second place. That same year, I began to study mixed martial arts under an instructor.”

The Hrangchals were the only Jewish family in their village of Thinghlun, located in the Indian state of Mizoram.

In 2013, they sold their home and farmlands and moved to Mizoram’s capital, Aizawl, in order to join the local Jewish community as they awaited the opportunity to make aliyah.

Without the family farm, Obed’s father was left without a profession.

Being an observant Jew made it more difficult to find steady work since often times they are replaced when they take leave for Shabbat and Jewish holidays, Shavei Israel explained.

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