Nov 25, 2009
Telling Foreman to stop boxing
From the NY Daily News:
Some groups say, and I thought Chabad was one of them, that when people become frum they should not give up their old life and old jobs. Rather, they should continue in their professions. They generally believe in living a frum life in all areas. That is how people like Matisyahu come to be and thrive in Chabad, and that is how young boxers like Foreman and Salita have succeeded as well.
While he hears criticism about his profession from some in Brooklyn's Jewish community, Foreman, 29, said, "People who have never been in the ring, never done what I do, they're sometimes really quick to give their opinions.
"They like to say what's forgiven and what's forbidden...but it's not so simple."
The 29-year-old Foreman, who lives in Carroll Gardens and trains in Gleason's Gym in DUMBO, has a record of 28-0. He's also been a part-time rabbinical student for the past three years, even though it is widely held that a rabbi shouldn't be a professional fighter.
"I don't think it's even a debate among rabbis," said Sid Leiman, a professor of Jewish history at Brooklyn College. "Rabbis would look unkindly on [boxing]; if it's not against Jewish law, it's certainly against the spirit of Jewish law."[...]
"The wrong way of looking at this is to say, 'He's an observant Jew and he's boxing so it's okay,'" said Rabbi Yaakov Osdoba, 40, a seminary instructor in Crown Heights. "The point is, even though he's observant it doesn't justify [boxing]."
Foreman doesn't buy the criticism, saying portions of Halakhah, Jewish law, provide justification for the sport he not only loves, but one he feels brings him closer to God.
"Look, if you ask, just boxing, any rabbi who doesn't know boxing is going to give you an answer right away," he said.
"But when you're in the ring after five rounds, going on 12, it's very spiritual, and I'm saying my own little prayers throughout the fight, 'Please, God, protect me.'"
It is strange that some rabbis are now giving statements like this that rabbis, or Jews for that matter, should not be boxers - I do not know if these are rabbis who have influence over these young men or not. In reality nobody should be boxers. Why would anyone want the brain damage that will result from getting your head pounded on repeatedly for a number of years. But once the guy is already in this profession and loves it and sees his life there, I don't see it to be any worse than somebody involved in other high risk jobs. Risk and potential future damage are very subjective and what some consider to be risky others consider to be lame, so it should be very difficult for anyone to tell someone else he can or cannot do something because of the risk involved. Boxing is probably pretty risky according to everybody, but what about other risky ventures like being a window washer by a skyscraper? What about being a dog trainer? a policeman or fireman? a soldier in the army?
I know I am not really saying anything, just wondering out loud... the debate seems strange to me. Especially in light of the fact that in the 30s and 40s, boxing was dominated by Jews. That changed, according to some studies I read, because of the socio-economic improvements in the Jewish community. But with the history of Jews and boxing it seems strange to say that a Jew cannot be a boxer...