Ban champ Tyson Fury from boxing over anti-Semitic comments, ex-titlist Wladimir Klitschko says


Former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko called for his successor to the crown, Tyson Fury, to be banned from boxing over anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist comments.

On Thursday, Klitschko described the remarks in May by Fury, who took the Ukrainian’s title in November, as “Hitler-like.”

Fury, 27, of Britain, was filmed warning viewers not to be “brainwashed” by Zionist Jews, who he said own all the banks and media. He later apologized for the remarks.

“I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people he sounded like Hitler. The man is an imbecile. Seriously,” Klitschko told the British media. “You cannot put it all together as a representation of the sport of boxing. He’s an imbecile champion.”

Fury and Klitschko will meet in a rematch for the world championship next month in the British city of Manchester.

Muhammad Ali vs. the Jews: A split decision


Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died Friday at 74, railed against Jewish promoters and slammed Zionist control of the world, but he also attended his grandson’s bar mitzvah and appealed to Muslim extremists to release Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl.

Ali’s grandson became a bar mitzvah at a Philadelphia synagogue in 2012.

Jacob Wertheimer, the son of Khaliah Ali-Wertheimer and Spencer Wertheimer, was called to the Torah at the historic Congregation Rodeph Shalom in front of 150 people, including the former heavyweight champion.

Ali’s daughter, who was raised Muslim, said at the time, “No one put any pressure on Jacob to believe one way or another. He chose this on his own because he felt a kinship with Judaism and Jewish culture,” and that it “meant a lot to Jacob” that Ali was there.

Ali, who was raised a Baptist named Cassius Clay, converted to Islam in the 1960s and changed his name.

He was esteemed by several prominent Jewish figures, including the comedian-actor Billy Crystal, who imitated the boxer. Among his biggest supporters was sportscaster Howard Cosell, who was among the first to call the boxer by his conversion name and defended Ali when he was stripped of his title in the late 1960s for failing to enter the U.S. Army because of his Muslim faith.

Howard Cosell, left, appearing with Muhammad Ali on “Saturday Night Live,” October 18, 1975. Photo by Ann Limongello/ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

Ali called out Jewish promoters in 1970 when he returned to the ring after 3 1/2 years away because of the draft-evasion charges.

Asked by a New York Times reporter after the fight about a subsequent contest with heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, Ali replied: “To those who might want it, the fight will come. All those Jewish promoters — they’ll see that it comes off.” The reporter said the athlete smiled as he said it.

In 1985, Ali visited Israel to arrange for the freeing of some 700 Shiite Muslim prisoners in the Atlit detention camp.

Five years earlier, during a visit to India, Ali charged that Zionists “control” America and the world, according to an interview reported in a leading publication in India, the text of which was obtained by JTA.

In the biweekly India Today dated Feb. 1-15, 1980, Ali spoke of Zionists when asked about the “militant revival” of Islam in Iran and the holding of “your countrymen hostage.” Ali, saying that “those people in Iran are fanatics” and that “the other Muslims in the world have condemned their action,” declared “religion ain’t bad; it’s people who are bad.”

“You know the entire power structure is Zionist. They control America; they control the world,” said Ali, who was in India earlier as a special emissary of then-President Jimmy Carter. “They are really against the Islam religion. So whenever a Muslim does something wrong, they blames the religion.”

But in January 2002, when Daniel Pearl of The Wall Street Journal was kidnapped by Islamic extremists, Alipleaded publicly for the Jewish journalist’s release and life.

“I appeal to you to show Daniel Pearl compassion and kindness,” Ali implored Pearl’s abductors, who would behead the journalist in Pakistan after nine days of captivity, although his fate would not be known for another three weeks.

“Treat him as you would wish all Muslims to be treated by others,” he entreated. “Daniel should not become another victim of the ongoing conflict. It is my most sincere prayer that Daniel Pearl be permitted to return safely to his family. May Allah have mercy on us all.”

Ali attended the memorial service for Pearl in March 2002.

Boxer Tyson Fury, who accused Jews of brainwashing, apologizes for causing offense


British boxing champ Tyson Fury apologized for causing offense with anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic comments he made in a video posted online this month.

The vaguely worded apology does not mention Jews or anti-Semitism, nor does it specify exactly which of his comments he regrets. Fury’s comments in the video that surfaced Friday on YouTube included homophobic and sexist remarks along with claims that Zionist Jews have brainwashed people.

“I said some things which may have hurt some people — which as a Christian man is not something I would ever want to do. I apologize to anyone who may have taken offense at any of my comments,” Fury said, according to a BBC News article Monday.

“Though it is not an excuse, sometimes the heightened media scrutiny has caused me to act out in public.

“I know more is expected of me as an ambassador of British boxing and I promise in future to hold myself up to the highest possible standard.

“Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am in no way a racist or bigot and I hope the public accept this apology.”

The Campaign Against Antisemitism, a British watchdog group, said Friday it was submitting a complaint to the British Boxing Board of Control against Fury over the video. In addition to accusing Jews of brainwashing people, Fury in the video said that Jews own all the banks, newspapers and television stations.

“Tyson Fury’s statements about Jewish people are offensive and racist,” Jonathan Sacerdoti, director of communications at the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said in a statement.

“Just as anti-Semitism is being stamped out from [soccer], the same should apply to boxing. He should be barred from boxing and referred to the British Boxing Board of Control.”

Fury, a practicing Catholic, will fight in July to regain his International Boxing Federation world title, which he lost last year due to a technicality after holding it for only 10 days.

Yuri Foreman, ex-boxing champ and now ordained rabbi, scores victory in return to ring


Yuri Foreman, the former junior middleweight boxing champion and a newly ordained Orthodox rabbi, ended his two-year hiatus from the ring with a victory.

Foreman, 35, won in a unanimous decision over Lenwood Dozier at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday night. All three judges scored the eight-round super welterweight bout 77-75.

Foreman improved his record to 33-2; he has nine knockouts. Dozier, 34, of Maryland, fell to 9-10; he also has one draw.

In 2013, Foreman quit boxing after losing his title to Miguel Cotto at Yankee Stadium three years earlier and sustaining a series of injuries. According to ESPN, he had been the first Orthodox Jew to win a world title in over 70 years when he beat Daniel Santos in 2009.

During his hiatus, Foreman was ordained as a rabbi by Dovber Pinson, a Chabad rabbi based in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn, The Algemeiner reported.

Foreman, a Belarus native who grew up in Israel, now lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

“Boxing is a very spiritual sport. We all have different paths,” the fighter said in a news release. “My faith keeps me centered and focused. You can be anyone. You can be a rabbi and still be fighting on the big stage at Barclays Center.”

Jewish boxer Dustin Fleischer wins by first-round knockout, moves to 4-0


Jewish boxer Dustin Fleischer, who said his quest is to become the first world champion descended from a Holocaust survivor, stayed unbeaten with a first-round knockout.

Fleischer, nicknamed “The White Tiger,” moved to 4-0 with the defeat of Ira Frank on Saturday night in Beach Haven, New Jersey, near his home, he reported after the fight on his Facebook page. The 26-year-old welterweight has won all his bouts by knockout.

His father, Phillip, himself a former boxer and the son of a Holocaust survivor, served as his trainer and cornerman for the fight.

Fleischer entered the ring wearing a gold Star of David necklace with a red jewel that had been owned by his late survivor grandfather.

“I am his blood, he’s part of me, he gives me strength,” Fleischer told JTA in an interview two days before the bout. “I know the odds he conquered to survive in the Holocaust, and I know I can conquer the odds to become a world champion.”

Jewish fans in North America, Israel and Great Britain regularly show their support, he told JTA.

Argentine boxer Carolina Duer defends bantamweight crown


Carolina Raquel Duer of Argentina defended her World Boxing Organization bantamweight title for the second time.

Duer, popularly known as “The Turk,” defeated Ana Maria Lozano of Venezuela by unanimous decision on Friday night in Lanus, a city in Buenos Aires Province, to take the crown in the 115- to 118-pound class. After the 10 rounds, two judges scored the bout 98-92, and one had it 97-93.

The Jewish boxer raised her professional record to 17-3.

Duer, 35, was the WBO super flyweight champion, for fighters weighing 112 pounds to 115 pounds — a title she defended six times. She is the first Jewish woman to hold a WBO crown.

The country’s National Public Television covered the fight live and broadcast it free under a federal program designed to make satellite television more accessible, including in high definition.

Duer this year began to announce boxing on National Public Television, and she will be in Las Vegas on Sept.  13 as the special commentator for Argentine TV at the rematch between American boxer Floyd Mayweather and the Argentine Marcos Maidana.

Duer, a favorite in Argentina, is the daughter of Syrian immigrants. She attended the Jaim Najman Bialik Primary School in Buenos Aires and spent more than a month in Israel in her younger years working on a kibbutz and touring the country.

 

 

Cletus ‘The Hebrew Hammer’ Seldin moves to 9-0 with third-round KO


Jewish welterweight Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin won by a third-round knockout, bringing his record to 9-0.

For Seldin, 26, his knockout of Carl “The Assassin” McNickles of Chicago on Saturday in Westbury, N.Y., was the sixth of his pro boxing career. The East Side Boxing blog calls Seldin a Long Island fan favorite.

Seldin told the Algemeiner website in an interview earlier this year that he wears a Star of David on his trunks and on his jacket.

Pacquiao to visit Israel, says his Jewish promoter Bob Arum


Manny Pacquiao, the World Boxing Organization welterweight champion, will visit Israel, his Jewish promoter Bob Arum said.

Arum during a conference call Tuesday pledged to bring the Filipino boxer and lawmaker to Israel after Pacquiao fights Timothy Bradley in a title defense in Las Vegas on June 9.

“After the Bradley fight, we’re going to Israel,” Arum said. “We’ve got plenty of time to discuss Manny’s next fight then.”

Many Filipinos reside in Israel as migrant workers, facing challenges regarding the residency status of their children.

Earlier this month Pacquiao, who boasts a 54-3-2 record with 38 knockouts, and Floyd Mayweather both were ranked second by The Ring magazine as the best pound-for-pound fighters. The magazine symbolically left the top spot vacant; boxing fans have been clamoring for a fight between the two for years.

After Mayweather defeated Miguel Cotto, also a client of Arum, the promoter addressed the question as to why Pacquiao hasn’t fought Mayweather, invoking the name of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels in the process.

“You see Mayweather is from the school of propaganda that Joseph Goebbels, who was Hitler’s publicist, adopted,” said Arum in an interview with SportsRadioInterviews.com. “The more you say things over and over again, the more people believe them,” he added, referring to Mayweather’s alleged request for drug testing as a pre-condition for a fight with Pacquiao.

Pacquiao is also an elected politician in the Phillipines, serving as senator of the Sarangani province.

Argentine Jewish boxer to defend title in Buenos Aires


In many ways, Carolina Raquel Duer is a typical middle-class Jewish kid. She attended a Jewish day school, spent time working and traveling in Israel and celebrated her bat mitzvah at a Conservative synagogue.

But when she steps into the ring tonight at Club Atletico Lanus, she will be showcasing a set of talents not commonly associated with the Jewish women of Buenos Aires.

Duer, 33, is the World Boxing Organization’s super flyweight champion. Her Friday night fight, against the Uruguayan fighter María José Nuñez, will be her third title defense.

Known by her nickname, “The Turk,” Duer, 33, is the daughter of Syrian immigrants to Argentina. She attended the capital’s Jaim Najman Bialik Primary School and spent over a month in Israel in her younger years, working on a kibbutz and touring the country. On weekends, she went to the local Maccabi club and attended Jewish summer camp. It was there that her feisty personality was first evident.

“I liked the social activities of the Jewish community, but sometimes I got in trouble because I stood up for some disadvantaged kid,” Duer told JTA. “Injustice has always bothered me.”

Last year, Duer hit a thief who tried to steal her purse on the street. “The ambulance came,” she recalled. “I don´t think that guy would dare steal from a girl again.”

Her bat mitzvah was celebrated at the Iona Hebrew Center. “It moves me when I go to the temple,” Duer said. “Last time I went for a tragic situation, and I was there with my family. It´s very touching for me. I’m very Jewish in many ways.”

One of those ways is through food. Duer was the producer of a television show about Sephardic food and even worked as a waitress and bartender in her family´s restaurant. “Hummus, lajmashin, kibbeh, falafel—I love them, and I know how to cook them, but usually I can eat very little because of my profession,” Duer said. “I´m always training and trying to reach the right weight for the fights.”

Duer’s life changed forever in 2002 when she accompanied a friend who was trying to lose weight to a gym. There she was approached by the legendary Antonio Zacarias, a well-known local trainer, who asked if she had ever boxed before. Zacarias wanted to train her, and Duer loved the idea.

As an amateur, she won 19 out of 20 fights. In 2007, she went professional. Three years later, she won the WBO title by defeating Lorena Pedazza by decision. She has a professional record of nine wins and three losses.

Like her ancestors—Syrian immigrants were renowned as traders—Duer has an entrepreneurial spirit, which she brings to her boxing. She actively seeks sponsors and carefully manages the business of fighting. Asked how much she expects to earn from the Friday matchup, Duer declined to answer. “I won’t tell,” she said, “because I will be envied.”

Duer is the eighth Argentine woman to hold a WBO boxing championship and the first Jewish one. But she’s hardly the first Jewish fighter. As in the United States, decades ago Jews were leading figures in the Latin American boxing world. In 1940, Argentina’s Jaime Averboch won the welterweight title but died the same year without defending his belt. But the real legend is Moises Ortemberg, who won 42 fights as a professional and retired unbeaten in 1943—still a record in South America. Recently retired Mariano Plotinsky (“The Demolisher”), who has fought with a Star of David on his shorts, held the OMB Intercontinental title but lost his bid for a heavyweight class world title in 2010.

In the future, Duer hopes to live in New York and train at the legendary Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, home to another celebrated Jewish fighter, Yuri Foreman. She also hopes to get more involved in educational activities.

“I would like to teach kids the difference between boxing and fighting,” she said. “My family were always very good people. I think this is a characteristic that comes from Jewish education.”

Duer’s fight will be streamed online at www.tvpublica.com.ar/tvpublica/.

Salita takes N.Y. boxing title


Orthodox Jewish boxer Dmitriy Salita scored a knockout in the third round to take the vacant New York State welterweight title.

Salita, of Brooklyn, N.Y., defeated James Wayka on Dec. 16 at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan. Wayka was brought in as a substitute at the last minute for the ill Mike Anchondo, whom Salita was slated to fight for the International Boxing Association welterweight title.

The reggae artist Matisyahu rapped as Salita made his way to the ring as the headliner for the nine-fight card.

Salita raised his record to 32-1-1 with 17 knockouts.

Films: Documentary captures young Orthodox boxer’s journey


Socalled music, mythic characters, legal pugilism, Kirk again, open casting call


Saturday the 9th

” target=”_blank”>http://jdubrecords.org. ” vspace = ‘8’ alt=”Sliding Into Hades” border = 0>

The Greek myth of Orpheus and his wife Eurydice is a tale about love, life and death. When Eurydice dies, her bereaved husband follows her down to the underworld, the realm of Hades, and with his angelic singing, convinces the god of death to return Eurydice to the world of the living. The only condition is that Orpheus not look back at his wife as they make their way home. At the last minute, he violates the rule and his wife fades away. “Sliding Into Hades” is playwright Aaron Henne’s modern exploration of the myth, dealing with our own attitudes toward mortality.

Thurs.-Sun., through June 17. $12 (under 25), $22.50 (weeknight), $25 (weekend). Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 477-2055. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ alt=”Robert Shapiro”>

Radio personality and serial bad boy Danny Bonaduce will go head-to-head with high-profile attorney Robert Shapiro (see photo) in a charity boxing match this evening. The “Sports Sweepstakes” fundraiser benefiting Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services promises to be quite punchy — with Monty Hall of “Let’s Make a Deal,” Olympic gymnast Mitch Gaylord, fabulous prizes and three sanctioned bouts. I’ve got my money on Bonaduce — the former “Partridge Family” member destroyed fellow child stars Donny Osmond and Barry Williams (a Brady) in previous charity boxing events.

5:30 p.m. $1,250. Beverly Hilton, 9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 996-1188.

Tuesday the 12th

” target=”_blank”>http://www.salemmindgames.com.

Wednesday the 13th

” target=”_blank”>http://www.rubicontheatre.org.

Thursday the 14th

” target=”_blank”>http://www.sinaitemple.org.

Friday the 15th

After eating a large Shabbat meal you often want to do nothing more than sit back and be entertained. And entertained you shall be by Barry J. Hershey’s “Casting About,” a documentary chronicling the agony, frustration and hilarity of casting calls, told from the perspective of a filmmaker. In the vein of “American Idol,” footage includes interviews, monologues and audition sessions with more than 350 actresses trying out for a dramatic role.

Various show times. $7-$10. Laemmle Music Hall 3, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 274-6869.

A punch-by-punch guide to life


“Ringside: A Treasury of Boxing Reportage,” by Budd Schulberg (Ivan R. Dee, $27.50).

In a town where industry types seek multihyphenate status, Budd Schulberg is among the only legitimate triple threats, a true literary lion as adept as a novelist and journalist as he is as a screenwriter.

Schulberg is about to receive the Thomas Ince Award, named for the film pioneer, at the Backlot Film Festival, which takes place Jan. 30 through Feb. 3. In addition to this honor, Schulberg just came out with a new book, “Ringside,” a collection of his boxing journalism, written over a lifetime of love for the sweet science.

Schulberg, 92, is most famous for his novel, “What Makes Sammy Run?” which introduced the world to Sammy Glick, a loathsome Hollywood wannabe who steals credit whenever he can but ultimately ends up “wandering alone through all his brightly lit rooms” in a mansion like Orson Welles’ Charles Foster Kane in “Citizen Kane.”

Schulberg has noted that, as a result of the publication of “Sammy” in 1941, he became the probably the only person ever attacked by both John Wayne and the Communist Party. Wayne didn’t like the book because he felt that it denigrated Hollywood. The apparatchiks of the Communist Party, which Schulberg had joined as a young man in the 1930s, didn’t like it because they saw it as a capitalist screed.

Indeed, in a phone interview from New York, Schulberg goes so far as to say that the party reacted “violently” against the book.

If Schulberg’s literary debut led to his temporary estrangement from Hollywood, where he had grown up as the son of Paramount executive B.P. Schulberg, it did not affect his association with the fight game.

In “Ringside,” he writes about how, as a 7-year-old boy, he put together a scrapbook on Benny Leonard, perhaps the greatest Jewish fighter of the past century. Leonard was a family friend, as was Mushy Callahan, born Vincent Morris Scheer, a Jewish newsboy from Boyle Heights. Like Leonard, Callahan was a pro boxing champion during the 1920s, a golden era for Jewish boxers, who dominated the lighter weight classes between the first two World Wars.

Schulberg first stepped into a ring as a child. He never fought in the Golden Gloves, but he did work out with a boxing trainer. Many years later in the 1950s, he, too, served as a trainer, co-managing heavyweight contender Archie McBride, a subject he discusses in one chapter of his book.

Unlike some boxing writers, Schulberg knows his way around a right cross. Consider this passage about the bout between former Olympic champions Pernell Whitaker and Oscar De La Hoya, the Golden Boy from East L.A.: “Since the Whitaker style is to feint and sucker opponents into attacks and then counterpunch from unorthodox angles, Oscar’s more conventional aggression was often being smothered as he fell victim to Whitaker’s unexciting but efficient game plan.”

Schulberg devotes a number of pieces to De La Hoya and other contemporary fighters like Mike Tyson (whom he refers to in the dedication as his “fellow pigeon fancier”) and Evander Holyfield, but he always brings in a historical context that reflects his longstanding fandom.

For instance, in his write-up of Felix Trinidad’s fight against defensive specialist Winky Wright, Schulberg compares Wright to boxing pioneer Daniel Mendoza, a Jew, whose innovations to the sport included the concept of footwork and sophisticated defensive maneuvers, such as bobbing, weaving, feinting and parrying.

While the book is by no means focused on Jewish fighters, Schulberg brings in Jewish references in unlikely places. For instance, he was on the scene sleuthing at the first fight between Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, and Sonny Liston, when Clay “hid … in a Jewish old people’s home where the supposedly anti-Semitic Cassius endeared himself to the clientele. ‘Such a nice boy,’ an old lady told me. ‘I can’t picture him hurting anyone. We all hope he wins.'”

Schulberg also concludes the book with a 33,000-word article, first published in six installments in Collier’s Magazine in 1950, on Mike Jacobs, yet another Jew, who was the leading boxing promoter in the 1930s and 1940s. The profile is fair-minded and compassionate, even though it depicts a man whom some may have viewed as the Sammy Glick of boxing. It was not for nothing that Jacobs was known as the Macchiavelli of Eighth Avenue.

Yet Schulberg also shows how Jacobs integrated the sport by signing Joe Louis to an exclusive contract a decade before Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson. It also shows the ingenuity and work ethic of the ever-industrious Jacobs, who had grown up in poverty on the New York City waterfront.

As in novels like “The Harder They Fall,” where he had an aspiring playwright slum as a press agent, and in his Oscar-winning screenplay for “On the Waterfront,” in which he maps a bildungsroman worthy of Prince Hal and Jesus onto the tale of Marlon Brando’s ex-prizefighter, “Ringside” contains Schulberg’s mix of erudition and street authenticity. He knows all of the boxing and ghetto slang. At the same time, he can come up with exquisite metaphors.

In an example of this, he compares the Madison Square Garden debut of aging light-heavyweight Archie Moore to that of opera icon Enrico Caruso in prose reminiscent of Damon Runyon: “If Caruso had had to tour the tank towns in moth-eaten opry houses for petty cash while third-raters unfit to carry his music case were pulling down big notices and the heavy sugar at the Met, he would have become as cynical and money-hungry and unthrilled as Archie Moore seemed to feel in the Garden last week.”

Whether it’s exposing the corruption of boxing, as he did in “The Harder They Fall,” or shedding a light on the unsavory aspects of Hollywood in “Sammy,” Schulberg has never lacked for courage.

To this day, some still feel that Schulberg unfairly stereotyped Jews in creating the most unethical of all schemers in Sammy Glick.

Su temple es mi casa


It’s 103 degrees in Hollywood, and I’m schvitzing. As I head up the stairs at my synagogue, Tony Guerrero and I exchange greetings.

As usual, he’s looking sharp: pressed
slacks, a clean white button-down shirt, and today — a tie and a kippah.
“Tony,” I ask incredulously, “how can you wear that tie in this heat — don’t you want to at least loosen it a bit?”

“No way,” he answers. “It’s Shabbat.”

His answer impresses me, but it no longer surprises me. For although Guerrero is a Mexican American non-Jew, I have come to understand just how intensely he has embraced the Jewish community and how genuinely at home he feels here.

Non-Jews are common at many Jewish facilities, ensuring the smooth operation of our institutions — understanding and anticipating the needs of members, meeting the standards of our practices. But Guerrero’s story is more than the tale of someone “other” who happens to work among “us.” To hear Guerrero tell it, he has learned both the most fundamental and profound of life’s lessons by being among Jews.

At Temple Israel of Hollywood, where my family has belonged for 10 years, Guerrero attends to all facets of our building’s use: repairs, maintenance, security, and more. He is striking for his efficiency, his quiet presence and the way in which he brings — for lack of a better word — a haimishness to his work. The way he sees it, he’s not just our facilities manager, he’s also “a psychiatrist, a referee … a jack-of-all-trades.”

Born in Mexico, Guerrero came to the United States at the age of 5 with his mother. He quickly adapted to Southern California, acquiring skills that his family came to depend upon. When his uncle needed a new part for his car, Guerrero went along to translate for him. Impressed by the 10-year-old’s maturity and English skills, the owner of the auto shop, Arthur Louis Richman, offered him a job cleaning up after school.

Guerrero learned that Richman was a nonobservant Jew who “had no kids, no family.” He found ways to be useful — and Richman both encouraged and challenged him. By the time Guerrero was 11, he was spending every afternoon and weekend at the shop, and his relationship with Richman became “like a father-and-son thing.”

Through observation and initiative, Guerrero learned much by Richman’s side. Whether the lessons involved auto repairs, coin collecting, or interpersonal behavior, “[Richman] was a perfectionist; he was a very smart man.”

When Guerrero started getting into trouble as a teenager, Richman took him to a boxing gym. At the age of 16, Guerrero had his first amateur fight; at 18 he turned pro.

After four pro fights — he won them all — Guerrero decided he wanted out: “I was just too young to deal with all the pressure.”

Around the same time, his mentor retired.

“After I stopped boxing and he sold his business, I didn’t know what to do. I only had [some] high school … and I was striving; I wanted better.”

In 1989, encouraged by Richman, Guerrero applied for a building maintenance job at Valley Cities Jewish Community Center. Although he felt that he was “out of [his] league,” he says, “I [just] told them the truth — that I’d boxed, that I was a mechanic, that I was good with tools, but that … I wanted to learn.” Modestly, Tony admits “I guess they liked the ambition part.”

Tony quickly got to know many of the families there, and he found them more than willing to help him excel. When he needed to upgrade or repair the building he’d “know who to call on [among the families] to learn from … a plumber, or an electrician, or a carpenter.”

But his learning didn’t stop with the tools of his trade.

“I started seeing how important education was, which I didn’t know before,” he said.

With encouragement from people at Valley Cities, Guerrero completed high school and attended community college.

He also saw Jewish family role models worthy of emulation.

“I started seeing how close the fathers were to their kids,” he said.

He was equally impressed with the kids: “Where I grew up, if you [did] something for a kid … the kid would look at you and say, ‘Who are you?’ and use the f-word.”

But the kids at Valley Cities would “say, ‘Good morning, Tony. How are you?’ and ‘Thank you for fixing’ this.’ It really made me a better person.”

His informal education in Judaism took another leap forward about nine years ago, when he accepted his current job at Temple Israel.

“I didn’t know what a tallit was … what a kippah was, what the Torah was,” he said. “I had to catch on [quickly] when I came here.”

Guerrero tells me that he “isn’t religious,” though he was raised as a Catholic. “But I have a lot of faith. I live by the Ten Commandments, and I try to be the best person I can be.”

Noticing the ways Jews “give back to their community,” Guerrero says, “Now, if I’m able to help somebody, I will; before I wasn’t like that.”

As though still surprised by his good fortune, Guerrero quietly confessed that he had been “a lost soul” before he was taken in and “raised by” Richman. Whenever they speak, he says, “I just thank him, thank him, and thank him. He really taught me how to be a good man.”

Working “with Jews for so long, and coming from where I started [can] make you a smart man, make you a nice man. And that’s the kind of people I belong with.”

In This Corner — the Choreographer


Choreographer Keith Glassman always wanted to learn more about his grandfathers and why they both pursued boxing careers in their youth.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions in my family,” he says. “My grandparents and their generation were very reticent when it came to talking about their personal histories.”

Known for dances that blend natural, athletic movement with sociological commentary, Glassman decided to make a piece that would allow him to explore whether other Jewish men in his grandfathers’ generation also boxed “to make money. I was surprised to find out that there were a lot of Jewish boxers,” he says. “It was an immigrant’s way of trying to make it in America.”

Using archival photos and films of Jewish boxers dating from the 1920s for inspiration, the 50-year-old Glassman created “Goldman.” Premiering at Highways, a performance space in Santa Monica on June 15 and billed as “Yiddish-speaking postmodern dance,” “Goldman” includes one male dancer (the “boxer”) and three fluent male Yiddish speakers, ranging in age from mid-50s to 70s. While the dancer performs a sequence of movements ranging from slow, isolated gestures to faster, more full-bodied motion, the three Yiddish speakers, all nondancers, form a separate group and “haunt the boxer.”

“I’m trying to create a relationship between the past and the present,” says Glassman, who notes that many of the immigrant Jewish boxers barely spoke English yet managed “to make their way in the world. I see their situation as similar to immigrants today, doing whatever they can to make a living, while trying to retain their cultural identity.”

Glassman had to do “a lot of networking” to find the right Yiddish-speaking men for the project and wound up attending various Yiddish conversation classes. “Women in their 70s kept asking me how old I was and if I was married,” he says. “But seriously, I admired how these people have such a strong connection to the language.”

“Goldman” marks the second time that Glassman has explored his Jewish roots as a choreographer. When he lived in New York, he created a “more autobiographical” dance about growing up in Philadelphia. “This is a much bigger project,” he says of “Goldman,” which will become part of a larger work on how different immigrant cultures assimilate while remaining connected to their roots. “I figured I’d start with the Jewish experience first. It’s a part of who I am, and it will always be with me.”

Glassman has always been fascinated with subcultures and incorporating performers who lack formal dance training. One of his best-known works, “Mavericks,” explored the passion and devotion of surfers and involved performances by both dancers and surfers. An early dance, “Backfield,” examined the appeal of sports among both fans and players, while “Audacious,” performed at Highways last year, involved interviews with scholars and clergy on the subject of hope in a conflict-ridden world.

“The world is filled with movement and the vocabulary we’re taught in dance programs is not always relatable to people,” says Glassman. “I’ve never been moved by someone who can do six pirouettes. I’m much more interested in movement that’s pedestrian and recognizable in the everyday world.”

Raised in Philadelphia, Glassman used to attend musicals with his parents and afterwards, teach the dances he saw onstage to the kids on his block.

“We also had ‘showtime’ in my family after dinner, where the kids would perform,” he recalls.

Mostly, Glassman played basketball and didn’t think of studying dance until he graduated from Brown with a degree in sociology. “But as a basketball player I was always more interested in form than in scoring,” he says. “And when I worked as a lifeguard after college, I found myself very inspired by divers.”

After moving back home and trying a dance class at Temple University, Glassman opted to pursue formal training at San Diego State University and subsequently moved to New York for 12 years. He performed in several modern dance companies before forming Keith Glassman & Dancers in 1989. Though his company performed regularly and received a number of grants and awards, Glassman could not make a living as a choreographer and decided to apply to graduate school.

“I didn’t want to see myself 10 years from now waiting tables,” he says.

After receiving his MFA from UC Irvine in 1996, Glassman re-established his company in Los Angeles. Currently, he works as a Pilates and dance teacher while continuing to choreograph.

“While I wouldn’t say I’m ‘called’ to do this, I know I love dance more than anything else,” he says.

And while Glassman still has many unanswered questions about his grandfathers, “Goldman” has allowed him to feel closer to his family’s past. “I’ll never know everything,” he says. “But I do feel that I’ve created my own history from these two-dimensional images.”

Keith Glassman presents “Goldman” as part of “4 Headed Dance,” featuring work by three other choreographers, June 15-18, Highways, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. 8:30 p.m. (Thurs.-Sat.), 2:30 p.m. (Sun.). $15. Call (310) 315-1459 for reservations.

 

The Circuit


Supercause for Super bowl

Goodies abounded on Super Bowl Sunday as, for the 20th consecutive year, “Doctor to the Stars” and Fulfillment Fund founder Gary Gitnick, chief of the Division of Digestive Diseases at UCLA School of Medicine, and his gracious wife, Cherna, opened their home to more than 200 friends for their annual Super Bowl party. What started out as a social gathering has turned into a springboard for educational supporters to speak at halftime to the guests, cozying up in the Gitnicks’ living room where the dress is casual and so is the atmosphere.

Celebs like Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and wife, Corina, stopped by to chat and speak at half time with Police Chief William Bratton, Superintendent of Schools Roy Romer, state Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont), Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, Fulfillment Fund CEO Andrea Cockrum, producer Sandy Climan, UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale, Councilwoman Janice Hahn and Darrien Iacocca with Charlie Knapp.

Chasen’s former captain, Arli, served up its famous chili but it was the dessert table that really hit home with cream puff poppers, triffle, a selection of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream with assorted toppings, cakes, brownies and luscious candies. The full house was a testament to not only the Gitnick’s well-deserved popularity, but proof that, “if you feed them, they will come.”

Sparkle and Shine

The night was all aglitter when Harry Winston launched its new 6,000-square-foot Beverly Hills flagship salon. The event, filled with gawkers and gawkees was hosted by Harry Winston chairman Ronald Winston, son of the founder, and producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of the board of the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation. The evening was a tribute to the fund and a portion of the proceeds of sales went toward the charity.

Long known as the jeweler to the stars, Harry Winston jewels are always prominent on awards nights and adorn the biggest celebs.

The plush new salon was designed by world-renowned architect Thierry Despont, whose legion of credits include the Carlyle Hotel in New York and Claridges in London, as well as the interiors of the decorative art galleries at the Getty Museum. The grand chandelier was inspired by an over-size piece of jewelry originally created for an Indian maharaja by Harry Winston.

Guests were also treated to a glimpse of some legendary gems, including the Lesotho Diamond, weighing 71.73 carats.

Read On!

More than 120 enthusiastic students from Los Angeles Open Charter Elementary School received a special visit from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for the local celebration of Scholastic Read for 2006. Millions of children, parents and teachers worldwide joined together to read for 2,006 seconds (approximately 33 and a half minutes). With Villaraigosa at the helm, however, and a big book donation to celebrate, the event lingered well past the 33-minute mark. Paul Koplin, vice president of the board of directors of the Literacy Network of Greater Los Angeles, was on hand to thank Villaraigosa for a 500-book donation to help the organization’s literacy providers celebrate reading for years to come.

“We’re having a great time with the mayor during this celebration of reading and are grateful to him for choosing the Literacy Network to receive these books that will be distributed among several of our over 250 literacy providers,” Koplin said. “Actually, we’d love to have him read with us more often!”

The Literacy Network of Greater Los Angeles is dedicated to eradicating illiteracy, and links volunteers, learners, donors and teaching materials with approximately 1,100 adult, family, workplace and children’s literacy program sites in Southern California.

Kick It Up

Uber boxing manager Jackie (what’s a nice Jewish girl doing in a profession like this?) Kallen cut the ribbon as the doors opened at the new Lennox Boxing Club in South Los Angeles. L.A County Sheriff Lee Baca and Kallen held a ribbon-cutting press conference at the gym to celebrate the boxing program for innercity youth, which the Sheriff’s Department will oversee. For more information on the program, call (323) 242-8784.

 

Senior Moments – And in This Corner, Stella Goren


Stella Goren is only about 4-foot-10, but she packs a strong punch.

It all started when she was turning 79, and her husband asked what she wanted for her birthday.

“I'd like to work out at a gym with a personal trainer,” Goren told him.

In spite of thinking she was meshugge and assuming this wouldn't last, her husband gave his wife of 45 years what she wanted.

“I was very happy,” Sam Goren recalled. “I didn't have to go out and buy her a present.”

It turned out to be the perfect gift. Goren has been working out at the In Training Fitness Center in Hollywood, and loving it, for the past five years.

“Most exercise classes for seniors have you sitting in a chair and you bend down, you lift your arms, you turn your head,” Goren said. “The teachers don't really push you and there's no weight training. This makes sense, because you can get injured if you aren't with a real trainer. But I wanted to build up my muscles and bones.”

Well, Goren wanted to be pushed — and she got it.

Her personal trainer is Stan Ward, a champion heavyweight boxer who was recently inducted into the California State Boxing Hall of Fame. It's obvious that he really likes and admires Stella Goren.

“When you see an 80-year-old lady come into the gym and she has an attitude of 'Yeah, I can do that,' and then she does it, that's impressive,” Ward said. “There are several people in the gym, much younger than she is who don't have half her gumption to do half of the things she does. In fact, when she was there six months, everyone was appalled at how well she was doing. 'She can't do that. How's she doing that?'”

Indeed, Ward was so impressed with Goren's stamina, attitude and coordination that he thought she could handle something more — something like boxing.

“When he asked if I wanted to try boxing, I said sure,” Goren recalled, “and it's been great. What I really like is that you can get out all of your aggressions.”

Goren did make one stipulation when she began her boxing training: “I can hit, but they can't hit me back. I'm not stupid — I don't want to get hurt. I do, however, get hit in the nose sometimes when I work out with the speed ball by myself.”

Goren's background might have suggested the possibility of beginning to box at 81 years old.

She grew up in New Haven, Conn., the middle child of three girls. But she had a special role in the family.

“I had a brother that died in the flu epidemic,” she said. “I became the boy of the family; I was my father's son. He taught me to do electrical and plumbing repairs, and I was driving his truck at 14.”

When the United States entered World War II, Goren joined the Marines. What she learned in that training, as well as her willingness to take on a challenge, apparently emerged when she came to the gym.

“She's definitely a Marine,” Ward said. “She's in it 100 percent. She refuses to quit; she doesn't give an inch. Once she sets her mind to something, she gets it done.”

The payoff for all of her hard work has been tremendous, Goren said.

“Everybody knows me at the gym,” she said. “I walk in, and I'm greeted — 'Hi love.' 'Hi champ.' I feel so loved and like a ganser macher — like a big shot.”

Goren's husband, Sam, who at 81 runs several miles a day, is very impressed with his wife's accomplishments.

“She's become younger, in her thinking and talking,” he said. “And she tries to keep me in line by telling me about all the adulation she gets from the young men at the gym.”

Before she started her physical training at 79, Goren already had a wonderful hobby. In fact, a visit to her home is like touring an art gallery. Every wall and every shelf is filled with fabulous paintings, sculptures and quilts that Goren has created.

“The day I turned 62,” she said, “I retired from my work as a secretary and started taking art classes at Westside JCC. Now I spend more time working out and boxing.”

Ward said Goren inspires him.

“Because of the vivaciousness she has and how she conducts herself, people don't look at her as if she is old,” he said. “If you go around like you're on your last leg, you will stimulate people's negative views of what old people will be like. She is the opposite. She dances and she has fun. She always comes into the gym with a smile; everyone loves her. She's a wonderful person.”

Goren said that working out has truly changed her.

“You can really see the difference from when I showed up the first time and how I am now,” she said. “I was very timid. I'm much more outgoing now, and that is a very new feeling for me. I actually feel confident for the first time in my life.”

Ellie Kahn is a freelance writer and owner of Living Legacies Family Histories. She can be reached at ekzmail@adelphia.net or

Your Letters


Math Problem

It’s a shame that in her zeal to pin the state’s budget problems on the Democrats, Jill Stewart attacks the community colleges and the disabled community in her opinion piece, “Math Problem” (March 19).

As a math instructor at community colleges and the father of a disabled child, let me help Stewart do the math. The purpose of the community college system is to provide education to all Californians.

For many, especially from culturally diverse communities, it is the entry point toward transferring to a four-year institution. For others, the colleges provide work force education leading to careers in nursing, office technology, etc., or retraining for those who have been laid off during the economic “recovery.”

Yet fees have jumped from $11 per unit to $18 per unit during the last year — a 64 percent increase. Gov. Schwarzenegger’s budget has proposed that these fees be raised to $26 per unit, another 44 percent increase or a total increase of 136 percent in two years. Rather than subsidizing students as Stewart suggests, it seems we are trying to balance California’s budget on their backs.

Stewart also takes a cheap shot at the disabled community for advocating for their rights to be productive members of our society. The disabled community is already at a disadvantage in pursuing their dreams.

I invite you to meet my daughter who requires a power wheelchair for mobility. Witness the occupational and physical therapy that she endures as part of her everyday life. Most importantly, witness her positive outlook on life.

Rather than balancing the budget on their backs, I suggest we applaud these vibrant members of our society and help them achieve their goals, just as we do with the able-bodied community. If you really want to do the math Ms. Stewart, please advocate that those who have benefited from large tax breaks pay their fair share, rather than trying to further marginalize these two dynamic communities.

David H. Senensieb, Calabasas

Jill Stewart responds:

California students pay a cost students elsewhere haven’t seen in years. The $12 hike per unit, less than a CD or a pizza, does not bring California close to what other students in other states pay. Students will absorb the mild sticker shock, as they did elsewhere.

It’s a shame big bureaucracies use the disabled as props. Instead of frank talk about which programs don’t deliver, legislators facing those wheelchairs — one does not see the blind or less-impactful props — rarely get there. They rarely discuss how poorly our programs compare to other states. Bureaucracies squelching frank discussion hurt everyone.

The Other Shiites

Rob Eshman’s article titled, “The Other Shiites” (April 9) is a true depiction of Muslims. Contrary to the fanatical, turban- and beard-adorned gunslingers making headlines on Fox, this article and the event that led to it reflects the educated, all-embracing and common Muslim. I am one of them, and I felt pride in the editor’s words. Thank you for such a beautiful piece.

Faisal Laljee, via e-mail

Rick Orlov

Either writer Catherine Siepp misquoted Rick Orlov, or he took a wrong turn down a City Hall corridor (“A Walk in Rick Orlov’s City Hall,” April 9).

Wendy Greuel is not Jewish, although she is married to a Jewish man, and Eric Garcetti is Jewish. Journalists should check facts. Additionally, it was not necessary to mention that Jan Perry is a convert to Judaism. She is Jewish, period — and a committed Jew at that.

Valerie Fields, Los Angeles

 

The Jewish approach to converts is to welcome them and treat them with full equality to born Jews. Once they have become Jews-by-choice, referring to their status as converts is discouraged. In spite of this tradition, The Journal’s article on City Hall reporter Rick Orlov contained a very inappropriate reference to City Councilwoman, and Jew-by-choice, Jan Perry.

The article makes matters worse, ending the paragraph with a reference to Perry not as “the councilwoman,” but as “the African American.” What does Perry’s race have to do with anything? Orlov, Seipp and The Jewish Journal owe Perry and all other Jews-by-choice a big apology.

Joel and Fran Grossman, Los Angeles

Chaos in Town

I was excited to see that Leora Alhadeff wrote “Chaos Comes to Town” (March 19) about my cousin, Merhav Mohar, an emerging professional Israeli boxer, and his recent arrival to compete at the Olympic Auditorium in an Oscar De La Hoya-sponsored boxing event.

Well, the follow-up is that Merhav won his match. We were so excited. He’s now 10-1 and will be invited back to compete in the U.S. again.

Despite all the Palestinian-Israeli news you read about in Israel, there are still young people like Merhav who love Israel and have found they can realize big dreams in Israel, too. Merhav’s father grew up on a kibbutz and his grandparents were real chalutzim (pioneers) in founding one of the few financially successful kibbutzim, Givat Haiim Ichud. We’re looking forward to his visit again.

Daniel Wachtenheim , Los Angeles

Correction

In “The Other Shiites” by Rob Eshman, Ali, the progenitor of Shiite Islam, should have been referred to as the Prophet Mohammad’s nephew and son-in-law, not his grandson.

Chaos Comes to Town


Merhav Mohar never lost a match until a Latvian at the Sheraton Plaza in Israel took away his winning streak. KO’ed in the first round, the 21-year-old Israeli boxer said, "It was the best knockout ever seen in the Holy Land."

In America for the first time through Golden Boy Promotions — Oscar De La Hoya’s company — Mohar is confident that at the March 25 nationally televised event, he’ll come out the victor.

The Israeli-born boxer always knew he would take the athletic route.

Starting in karate and then moving on to Muay-Thai (kickboxing), Mohar beat out the competition and wanted to compete in a more visible sport. Fans and contenders nicknamed him "Chaos" for his constant energy in the ring — making it difficult for his opponents to anticipate his moves. After being raised in Kenya and then moving to Israel, Mohar experienced a rough adjustment — learning a new language, attending a new school and making new friends.

Well-adjusted now, the junior middleweight has no second thoughts about living in Israel, convinced it’s where he belongs. A descendent of generations of Israeli pioneer fighters, Mohar proudly serves in the Israel Defense Forces (he has a line of "Hatikva" tattooed on his right arm), and commands a team of soldiers in security and intelligence. With five months left of his service, it has been tough juggling both his boxing career and his military life, but the army understands the demands of the sport.

His parents never thought he would opt for a career in the ring.

"My mom is a Jewish mom, she’d obviously like me to be a doctor," he said with a chuckle.

Interestingly enough, Mohar disappointed his father by not choosing a combat route in the army. Though his mother has never seen him fight, she makes him apologize to his defeated opponents.

"If I knockout someone," he said, "she says, ‘OK, now go over and say you’re sorry.’"

As an Israeli fighting in an American ring, Mohar hopes to be an ambassador of peace, and show Americans that Israel is more than the war zone they see on TV. Will he make a living out of boxing? He boxes for the love of the sport and for himself first, but if this premier fight jump-starts a career, "Why the hell not?" he said.

The fight will be held March 25 at Grand Olympic Auditorium at 7 p.m. and will be televised live on HBO Latino. For tickets, call (213) 480-3232.

The Great Jewish Hope


Dmitriy Salita doesn’t fight on the Sabbath, which gives his competition a much-needed day of rest from this powerful junior welterweight. With a 13-0, 10 KO record, the 5-foot-9, 139-pound fighter who goes by the moniker "The Star of David," is a rising star in the boxing ring.

Salita, 21, studied karate in Odessa until age 9, when he and his family immigrated to the United States. Though his parents were not religious, they understood that as Jews in the Ukraine, their family could not live in complete freedom. They hoped Brooklyn would bring their sons better opportunities. With little money to spare, the new immigrants could not afford to continue Salita’s martial arts training. Four years later, acting on his brother’s suggestion, 13-year-old Salita walked into the Starrett City Boxing Club.

"That was it. I was hooked, addicted," said Salita, who won the 2000 U.S. Nationals Under-19 and the 2001 New York Golden Gloves amateur championship title.

Salita, who fights in shorts embroidered with a gold Star of David, was not always observant; he slowly grew into his relationship with Judaism.

"In the Ukraine, Jews were traditional in knowledge, but we weren’t religious," he said.

Salita rediscovered his religion when his mother, Lyudmilia, was diagnosed with cancer in 1998. Lyudmilia’s hospital roommate’s husband introduced Salita to the Chabad of Flatbush. There, under the mentorship of Rabbi Zalman Liberov, Salita studied and embraced Jewish practices.

"It didn’t happen overnight, it took years. Each week it was something different — no TV on Shabbat, no driving on Shabbat, keeping kosher and so on," said Salita, who prays at local Chabad houses when he’s on the road. "I feel comfortable at Chabad, they’re down with people."

Chabad is also down with boxing. It was Liberov’s brother, Israel, who introduced Salita to his promoter, Top Rank’s Bob Arum.

Arum, who is an active member of Chabad of Southern Nevada, has promoted numerous champions including Muhammad Ali, Oscar de la Hoya and George Foreman. Israel sent Salita’s tape to Arum’s rabbi, the rabbi showed it Arum, and Arum signed Salita immediately. Salita was thrilled with the match.

"Bob was raised in an Orthodox family, so he’s totally supportive of my beliefs. He understands my Judaism, my schedule, plus, he’s just a really good guy," said Salita, who won his U.S. Nationals title after rescheduling the final mid-Sabbath bout for Saturday night.

"I’m proud of my Judaism," he said. "When my parents came to this country, they came here for freedom. My Judaism is a part of that freedom."

Salita looks for another post-sundown win on Saturday, Sept. 20, when he meets Joe Bartole (8-2, 5 KOs) in the ring at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim.

"I’ve been training hard and I’m looking forward to a good performance, to putting on a good show," Salita said. "And I’m happy to be in Los Angeles. It’s a great city, an exciting city, a glamorous city," Salita said.

Salita’s fight will be televised locally on KCAL 9, Sept. 20, 8 p.m. Tickets for the fight are available through TicketMaster.

+