Freestyle swim champion Jason Lezak of Irvine and fellow Californian, hot rodder Kenny Bernstein, have been elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame for 2006.
In all, four Americans, one British Australian and one Brazilian are among the chosen athletes, with a New York sports writer rounding out the seven inductees.
Youngest of the group is Lezak, who won four medals, including two gold, in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. He is the world-record holder in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle.
Bernstein of Forest City is the six-time National Hot Rod Association champion and in 1972 became the first driver-owner to break drag racing’s 300-mph barrier.
Tenpin bowling champ Marshall Holman of Medford, Ore., is the winner of 22 major Professional Bowlers Association championships and the first bowler to top $1.5 million in career earnings.
The only woman in the group, Adriana Behar of Rio de Janeiro, is Brazil’s beach volleyball star. She and her partner won silver medals in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and ranked as the world’s number one team in 2000, 2001 and 2004.
Two great champions of the past, Al Singer and Albert Rosenfeld, were also elected.
Singer of New York won the world lightweight boxing crown in 1930 with a first-round knockout of reigning champ Sammy Mandell. Singer, who died in 1961, won 61 of his 72 pro fights, 25 by KO.
Rugby legend Rosenfeld started his playing career (1909-24) in his native Australia, but won the bulk of his laurels with England’s Huddersfield Club. His record of 80 tries scored in a single season remains unbroken and he was an original member of the Rugby League Hall of Fame. He died in 1970.
The seventh inductee is Ira Berkow, New York Times sports feature writer and columnist for the past 24 years. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his series “How Race Is Lived in America: The Minority Quarterback,” and also wrote biographies of Hank Greenberg, Casey Stengel, Bill Bradley and others.
The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Museum is located on the campus of the Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sport in Netanya, Israel. Since 1979, it has inducted 315 athletes and sportspersons representing 24 countries.