Rafael Halperin

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Rafael Halperin
Rafael Halperin.jpg
Born 1924
Vienna, Austria
Died 20 August 2011
Bnei Brak, Israel
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Rafael Halperin
Billed height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Billed from Israel
Debut 1952[1]
Retired September 20, 1973

Rafael Halperin (1924 – 20 August 2011) was a prominent Israeli businessman, Orthodox rabbi, and the author of several religious books and an encyclopedia. In the 1950s, he worked in the United States as a professional wrestler in Vince McMahon Sr.'s Capitol Wrestling.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Austria, Halperin moved to Mandatory Palestine with his family in 1933. The Halperin family moved to Bnei Brak the following year, and Rafael studied in Haifa and Jerusalem as a teenager. He also excelled in several athletic pursuits, including weightlifting and karate.[3] He entered competitions and became the national champion in karate, boxing, and bodybuilding.[3][4] He is also said to have been a skilled diamond cutter.[3]

Professional wrestling[edit]

Halperin decided that he wanted to open a chain of athletic facilities, so he began wrestling professionally to earn the necessary money. His career took him to the United States, where he was reported to have won 159 consecutive matches. He earned the displeasure of some promoters and fellow wrestlers because he treated his matches as legitimate athletic contests rather than a scripted performance. He refused to yield, however, as he felt that he was upholding the dignity of his country. He also wrestled as a face (fan favorite), refusing to break any rules, for the same reason.[3]

Halperin continued to wrestle in the United States and Canada into the 1960s. During this time, he faced such opponents as Antonino Rocca while competing for Capitol Wrestling.[3] He later returned to Israel, where he is credited with popularizing professional wrestling.[5] His most well known matches in Israel were against Achmad Fuad and the "Jordanian Tiger" Abu Antar. The match with Fuad took place on June 18, 1966 in front of 6,000 fans at the Bloomfield Stadium and caused the police to use tear gas after a big riot broke out immediately after Fuad attacked the victorious Halperin.[6] The match with Abu Antar took place on September 20, 1973 and was the most successful local wrestling match seen in the country, as the Yad Eliyahu Arena was sold out to witness Halperin defeat the "Jordanian Tiger". This was Halperin's last match and after he retired from professional wrestling, he started to study karate and mixed martial arts in Japan.[7]


Rabbi Rafael Halperin

After retiring from wrestling, Halperin held several jobs in his home country. He fulfilled his dream of opening a chain of athletic centers. He also became an author, writing several books including an encyclopedia and a weight-loss guide. During the Yom Kippur War, he served in the Israel Defense Forces.[3] Halperin also founded a chain of optical centers in Israel.[3][4] In 2008, he and his wife Bertie decided to divide the optical business among their five children.[8]

Halperin had also been ordained a rabbi.[8] Because of his orthodox Jewish beliefs, he was opposed to businesses operating on Shabbat. To combat this "desecration" of the holy day, Halperin led an initiative to create a credit card containing a chip that renders it inoperable on Saturday. It is also designed not to function in any store known to operate on Shabbat.[4][9]


Halperin died on 20 August 2011 at age 87.


External links[edit]