Yuri Foreman

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Yuri Foreman
Yuri Foreman.jpg
Foreman in 2008
Weight(s)Light middleweight
Height5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Reach72 in (183 cm)
Born (1980-08-05) August 5, 1980 (age 38)
Gomel, Belarus
Boxing record
Total fights38
Wins by KO10
No contests1

Yuri Foreman (born August 5, 1980) is an Israeli professional boxer who held the WBA super welterweight title from 2009 to 2010. He was born in Gomel, Belarus, but currently fights out of Brooklyn, New York.[1] Foreman has also pursued Jewish religious studies during his boxing career, and in 2014 was ordained as a rabbi. He has been referred to as the "Boxing Rabbi."

Early years[edit]

Yuri Foreman was born in Gomel, Belarus, then part of the Soviet Union. He started out as a swimmer, but his mother signed him up for boxing lessons at age seven after he experienced bullying and beatings. At age nine, he immigrated with his family to Israel.[2] Boxing was not popular in Israel and there were few boxing gyms so he trained at an Arab gym. On his early days in boxing, Foreman said:

The first time I walked in, I saw the stares. In their eyes, there was a lot of hatred. But I needed to box; and boy, did they all want to box me. After a while, the wall that was between us melted. We all wanted the same thing. I traveled with them as teammates. It helped that I won almost all the time. And finally, we became friends."[3]

In Israel he became an amateur boxer and won three national boxing championships.[4] In 1999, Foreman moved to Brooklyn, New York City.[2] He stated that the only reason he came to the United States was to pursue his dream of a professional boxing career, and saw no further opportunity to do so in Israel.[5] His first job was in the Garment District in Manhattan, where he made deliveries and swept the floors for a clothing store. At the same time, he began training at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, where he met his future wife, Leyla Leidecker, a Hungarian model and amateur boxer.[3]

Amateur career[edit]

In 2000, Foreman lost the New York Golden Gloves in the final,[6] but came back in 2001 to win the tournament.[2][4] During his amateur career, Foreman compiled a 75–5 record.[3]

Professional career[edit]

At the onset of his professional career, Foreman's management team was unsuccessful procuring appropriate fights. Foreman struggled financially.[6] Around 2004, Foreman met Murray Wilson who became his manager. Wilson signed Foreman up with Bob Arum's Top Rank promotion company.[6]

Light middleweight[edit]

On June 3, 2006, Foreman defeated Jesus Felipe Valverde, but tore ligaments in his left hand in the process.[7] His next scheduled fight was June 9, 2007 facing the favored Anthony Thompson (23 (17 KOs)-2-0) of Philadelphia in Madison Square Garden on the undercard of the Miguel CottoZab Judah fight.[8][9] Prior to the fight, Foreman moved his training grounds from Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn to Joe Grier's gym in Paterson, New Jersey.[8] Foreman won a tactical 10-round split decision, with the scores 97–93 and 96–94 for Foreman, and 96–94 for Thompson.[9] In September 2007, he was ranked as the 8th-best welterweight (67 kg, or 147 pounds) challenger by the World Boxing Association.[citation needed]

In December 2007, Foreman won a 10-round split decision over Andrey Tsurkan (25–3; 16 KOs), to take the North American Boxing Federation super welterweight title from him at the Paradise Theater on Grand Concourse in The Bronx, New York City.[10]

In April 2008 he beat 28–4–0 Saúl Román in a unanimous decision. While training for the fight, he was also studying to become a rabbi.[6] In October 2008, he defeated Vinroy Barrett (22–7, 11 KOs) from Kingston, Jamaica on the Hopkins-Pavlik undercard.

Foreman defeated James Moore (16–1; 10 KOs), in a 10-round unanimous decision for Foreman's NABF title at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on December 13, 2008. In the five outings leading up to the Moore fight, Foreman won decisions over fighters with a cumulative record of 118–17–2.[11]

WBA super welterweight champion[edit]

Foreman and Miguel Cotto at their weigh-in, 2010

On November 14, 2009, Foreman defeated Daniel Santos by a 12-round unanimous decision to become the new WBA super welterweight champion and Israel's first WBA champion.[12] He also became Israel's first world boxing champion.[12] In early January 2010, Foreman began talks with Bob Arum to arrange for himself and Filipino boxer seven-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, to meet on March 13, 2010. However, Pacquiao rejected the offer.

Foreman fought Miguel Cotto on June 5, 2010, the first fight to take place at the new Yankee Stadium. Foreman went down from a slip in the 7th round when his already braced, right knee buckled. He got back to his feet and continued fighting despite heavily favoring the knee. After a few more falls from the knee giving out and Cotto beginning to land, Foreman's trainer Joe Grier threw in the towel midway through the 8th round. The ring filled with both camps and officials. Cotto and Foreman embraced, thinking it was over. Feeling that Foreman was in no immediate danger, however, Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. asked him if he wanted to continue, and he did. While the crowd was not sure what was happening, the ring was cleared after a delay of a couple of minutes and the fight resumed with about half the round remaining. Cotto landed a left hook to the body and Foreman went down 42 seconds into the 9th round and Mercante called off the fight. In interviews after the fight, Cotto said "He was working on one leg, but I still kept fighting."[13]

When asked why he continued after injuring his leg, Foreman said: "I'm a world champion – now a former world champion – and you don't just quit ... A world champion needs to keep on fighting." A week after the fight, Foreman underwent surgery on his right knee to repair a torn ACL and Meniscus and to remove torn cartilage around his knee joint. The injury which had occurred when he was 15 years old, was aggravated during the bout. Foreman was told by doctors to take off for a year, but was boxing again nine months later.[14] On March 2, 2011, he battled Polish Light Middleweight boxer Pawel Wolak, and lost.[14] Shortly after the fight, Foreman said he wasn't sure if he was going to continue fighting or retire.[15]

After a 22-month layoff, Foreman was victorious in his return to the ring on Lou DiBella's Broadway Boxing card at BB Kings in Manhattan, New York on January 23, 2013.[16] Yuri won the 6-round bout by unanimous decision. On April 4, 2013, Foreman again emerged victorious by winning a six-round bout. He defeated Gundrick King by unanimous decision in the junior middleweight division at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC.

Jewish heritage and rabbinic studies[edit]

Foreman, "the first Orthodox Jew to own a world title since Barney Ross held championships in two divisions in 1935",[17] is one of three top contemporary Jewish boxers. The others are Dmitry Salita (30–1–1),[18][19] a junior welterweight, and heavyweight Roman Greenberg (27–1–0).[3]

"I thought at first that people were pulling my leg. Mike Marley said that Yuri was becoming a Rabbi. But that's true, he is. So I see Jim Borzell out there, and Jim handles John Duddy. 'So,' I said to Borzell, 'can you get John to go to Seminary? What a fight, a Priest against a Rabbi, and I'll get somebody from Nevada who's Mormon to referee the fight.'"[20]

Bob Arum

In the post-fight interview of his December 2007 win over Andrey Tsurkan, Foreman raised his hands and wished the television audience a happy Chanukah.[21] Foreman, who wears a Star of David on his boxing trunks, is an aspiring rabbi. "Boxing is sometimes spiritual in its own way", he said. "You have the physical and mental challenges in boxing, just like you have lots of challenges in exploring the different levels of Judaism. They are different but the same."[21]

Foreman studied the Talmud and Jewish mysticism in the morning, trains for boxing in the afternoon and attended rabbinical classes twice a week at the IYYUN Institute, a Jewish educational center in Gowanus. "Yuri is a very good student", said Rabbi DovBer Pinson, an author and lecturer who is Foreman's teacher. "Most people (in the class) who find out that he's a boxer are very surprised. He doesn't have that boxing personality, at least in the perception of what a boxer is. He's not the rough kid on the block. He's a sweet, easy-going kid."[21]

In 2014, Foreman was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi. He has stated that he intends to return to Israel and serve as a rabbi there, and occasionally leave Israel to box abroad.[22][23]

Professional boxing record[edit]

Professional record summary
38 fights 34 wins 3 losses
By knockout 10 3
By decision 24 0
No contests 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
38 Loss 34–3 (1) Erislandy Lara KO 4 (12), 1:47 Jan 13, 2017 Park Race Track, Hialeah, Florida, U.S. For WBA and IBO light middleweight titles
37 Win 34–2 (1) Jason Davis TKO 2 (8), 1:55 Jun 3, 2016 Resorts World, New York City, New York, U.S.
36 Win 33–2 (1) Lenwood Dozier UD 8 Dec 5, 2015 Barclays Center, New York City, New York, U.S.
35 Win 32–2 (1) Jovany Javier Gomez KO 1 (8), 1:56 Nov 12, 2013 Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, Florida, U.S.
34 Win 31–2 (1) Jamaal Davis UD 8 Jul 24, 2013 Roseland Ballroom, New York City, New York, U.S.
33 Win 30–2 (1) Gundrick King UD 6 Apr 4, 2013 Roseland Ballroom, New York City, New York, U.S.
32 Win 29–2 (1) Brandon Baue UD 6 Jan 23, 2013 B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, New York City, New York, U.S.
31 Loss 28–2 (1) Paweł Wolak RTD 6 (10), 3:00 Mar 12, 2011 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
30 Loss 28–1 (1) Miguel Cotto TKO 9 (12), 0:42 Jun 5, 2010 Yankee Stadium, New York City, New York, U.S. Lost WBA light middleweight title
29 Win 28–0 (1) Daniel Santos UD 12 Nov 14, 2009 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Won WBA light middleweight title
28 NC 27–0 (1) Cornelius Bundrage NC 3 (12) Jun 27, 2009 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. NC after Foreman was cut from an accidental head clash
27 Win 27–0 James Moore UD 10 Dec 13, 2008 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Retained NABF light middleweight title
26 Win 26–0 Vinroy Barrett UD 10 Oct 18, 2008 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
25 Win 25–0 Saúl Román UD 10 Apr 3, 2008 Aviator Sports and Events Center, New York City, New York, U.S. Retained NABF light middleweight title
24 Win 24–0 Andrey Tsurkan SD 10 Dec 6, 2007 Paradise Theater, New York City, New York, U.S. Won NABF light middleweight title
23 Win 23–0 Anthony Thompson SD 10 Jun 9, 2007 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
22 Win 22–0 Donny McCrary UD 10 Dec 2, 2006 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
21 Win 21–0 Jesus Felipe Valverde UD 10 Jun 3, 2006 Thomas & Mack Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
20 Win 20-0 Jimmy LeBlanc KO 1 (10), 2:49 Feb 4, 2006 BU Castle, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
19 Win 19–0 Troy Lowry UD 10 Oct 21, 2005 Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, Florida, U.S.
18 Win 18–0 Kevin Cagle UD 8 May 6, 2005 Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, U.S.
17 Win 17–0 Jesús Soto Karass UD 8 Feb 24, 2005 Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City, New York, U.S.
16 Win 16–0 Shakir Ashanti TKO 2 (6), 1:07 Nov 13, 2004 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
15 Win 15–0 Joshua Onyango UD 6 Jul 23, 2004 Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
14 Win 14–0 Calvin Shakir UD 6 Apr 15, 2004 Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City, New York, U.S.
13 Win 13–0 Anthony Ivory UD 6 Jan 16, 2004 Convention Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
12 Win 12–0 Israel Garcia UD 8 Oct 24, 2003 Fernwood Resort, Bushkill, Pennsylvania, U.S.
11 Win 11–0 Sammy Sparkman UD 6 Jun 3, 2003 Mohegan Sun Arena, Montville, Connecticut, U.S.
10 Win 10–0 Charles Clark TKO 2 (8), 1:40 Apr 26, 2003 Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, U.S.
9 Win 9–0 James Johnson TKO 1 (6) Mar 29, 2003 Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
8 Win 8–0 Will Evans KO 1 (6), 1:28 Jan 25, 2003 Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula, California, U.S.
7 Win 7–0 Andrey Trunov UD 6 Jan 10, 2003 Mohegan Sun Arena, Montville, Connecticut, U.S.
6 Win 6–0 Jose Luis Almanzar UD 4 Aug 30, 2002 Harry Cipriani Restaurant, New York City, New York, U.S.
5 Win 5–0 Michael Corleone TKO 2 (6), 1:40 Jun 20, 2002 Michael's Eighth Avenue, Glen Burnie, Maryland, U.S.
4 Win 4–0 Michael Doaks UD 6 Apr 27, 2002 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
3 Win 3–0 George Armenta MD 6 Mar 21, 2002 Michael's Eighth Avenue, Glen Burnie, Maryland, U.S.
2 Win 2–0 Tommy Attardo TKO 3 (4) Mar 15, 2002 Harry Cipriani Restaurant, New York City, New York, U.S.
1 Win 1–0 Israel Felix TKO 1 (4) Jan 24, 2002 Park Central Hotel, New York City, New York, U.S. Professional debut

TV and film[edit]

Foreman has appeared numerous times in nationally televised fights on ESPN, Showtime, HBO and Versus, and on talk shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He appeared in the film Fighting, which starred Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Foreman's former wife, Leyla Leidecker,[4] a native of Hungary who converted to Judaism, is making a documentary about women's amateur boxing in the Golden Gloves.[21] The couple has three sons.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Orthodox Jewish boxers score a hit, Haaretz
  2. ^ a b c Ritter, Adam. "Interview". New York Cool. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Hauser, Thomas. "The Haifa Connection: Roman Greenberg and Yuri Foreman". SecondsOut. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Farrell, Bill (2007). Cradle of Champions: 80 Years of New York Daily News Golden Gloves. Sports Publishing. p. 169. ISBN 978-1-59670-205-9.
  5. ^ http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3890426,00.html
  6. ^ a b c d Braziller, Zachary (April 3, 2008). "The Tale of the Tape and the Talmud". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Abramson, Phil (July 5, 2006). "Boxer Keeps Watch on a Fight for Life". The New York Times.
  8. ^ a b Songalig, Ryan (June 5, 2007). ""The Word" Featuring Yuri Foreman". boxingscene.com.
  9. ^ a b Rafael, Dan (June 10, 2007). "Soto scores dominant KO over Pacquiao in 7th round". ESPN.
  10. ^ "Foreman remains undefeated with split decision over Tsurkan". Associated Press. December 12, 2007.
  11. ^ "Yuri Foreman vs. James Moore on December 13 in AC". BoxingScene.com. October 27, 2008. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  12. ^ a b Sagi, Yehoshua (November 16, 2009). "Yuri Foreman takes world title with TKO". Haaretz.
  13. ^ Bishop, Greg (June 6, 2010). "Cotto Stops Foreman in Ninth Round". The New York Times.
  14. ^ a b Woods, Michael (December 8, 2011). "Yuri Foreman is in comeback mode". ESPN.
  15. ^ Dower, Jim (March 13, 2011). "Foreman unable to handle Wolak's pressure". BoxingNews24.com. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  16. ^ Boxing 101,"Yuri Foreman Better With Feet Than Fists In Victorious Ring Return", January 24, 2013
  17. ^ "Ready to Rumble: Boxing Rabbi Foreman Works Out at Gleason's Gym", May 27, 2010 by John Torenli, BrooklynEagle.com, Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
  18. ^ Shefler, Gil (September 9, 2009). "Devoutly Jewish fighters hoping titles will silence critics". Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
  19. ^ Lerner, Evan. "Mazel Tough". New York. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  20. ^ "Glick, Jerry, "Pavlik-Taylor II: The Hype Begins", SecondsOut.com, accessed 12/29/07". Secondsout.com. February 16, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  21. ^ a b c d e Abramson, Mitch (December 11, 2007). "Rabbi-d tenacity: Foreman mixes religion with boxing". Daily News. New York.
  22. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/sports/boxing-yuri-foreman-takes-world-title-with-tko-1.4097
  23. ^ "Orthodox Jewish ex-champ makes boxing comeback". Haaretz/The Forward. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  24. ^ [1]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Regional boxing titles
Preceded by
Andrey Tsurkan
NABF super welterweight champion
December 6, 2007 – June 2009
Title next held by
Willie Lee
World boxing titles
Preceded by
Daniel Santos
WBA super welterweight champion
November 14, 2009June 5, 2010
Succeeded by
Miguel Cotto