Has an Orthodox Jewish Boxing Champion Become More Impressive as a Promoter?
Some people dream of having a fairy-tale career.
Dmitriy Salita is on his second one.
But it wasn’t magic. Hard work and dedication led to his success. Most recently, he was seen celebrating in the ring with a yarmulke, as Claressa Shields, known as the GWOAT — Greatest Woman (Boxer) of All Time — defeated her nemesis, Savannah Marshall, in London. It was a historic card, featuring only female fighters.
Salita, a proud Orthodox Jew, did not have it easy when he first came to Brooklyn, from Odessa. Bullies stole his lunch.
“I wore Payless (sneakers), and when they stole my lunch, a lot of times it was only an orange or a banana, because my parents couldn’t afford a lot,” Salita said in an interview.
I saw Salita beat countless fighters in the ring, but what he is doing as a promoter is likely more impressive.
Salita said that the recent fight in London will help build the brand of women’s boxing, and hopefully push women’s sports forward. He believes that his fighter earned the highest paycheck in women’s boxing history.
“While men at her level get multiples of that, this is a significant step forward in the right direction,” he said.
Salita, who starred in the documentary “Orthodox Stance,” devoted himself to boxing. His mother passed away from cancer. He trained and won his first 30 fights, and won the Golden Gloves at Madison Square Garden. He would finish with an impressive 35-2 mark.
In boxing, you only have to beat the person in the ring. In promoting, you have to beat numerous people, and Salita said that rival promoters tried to poach his stable of fighters, but he didn’t let that happen.
After starting Salita Promotions 12 years ago, he now has an impressive roster, including Otto Walin, who nearly defeated heavyweight champion Tyson Fury
Salita said his religious observance hasn’t been a hindrance, but a strength that has propelled him, even though he sometimes has to rush to get to a Saturday night fight.
“All of my blessings are from God,” Salita said. “It’s all his plan.”
Asked if there will be a film sequel to “Orthodox Stance,” to show his success as a promoter, he laughed.
“I don’t know, I think they should show the original,” he said. “People try to put Orthodox Jews in a box. I said I would never let anyone put me in a box. I showed that being Orthodox and being a boxer and promoter don’t conflict, and it can all work together.”
Salita said he learned some of the promotions game from Bob Arum and Lou DiBella, top promoters who represented him when he was a fighter.
“It doesn’t matter if you are an Orthodox Jew, a Jew, any religion, or not, boxing is a very, very tough business,” he said. “But I love it. I’ve learned a lot.”
The author is a writer based in New York.