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Friday, Jan 24, 2014

Opinion: Now I’ve Seen It All

Rabbi and MMA fighter Yossi Eilfort

By Jesse Heitz

In my year and a half here at Full Contact Fighter, I’ve had a front row seat to some of the MMA world’s most captivating stories.  Some have been tragic; others agitating beyond belief, while a healthy portion have been downright baffling.  I can tell you that today’s featured story can be emphatically placed in the latter category.

Apparently a young, as in 22 years old, California rabbi won his debut bout as an amateur MMA fighter.  Yes, that was no kind of misprint, nor are you, the reader, suffering from some sort of delirium; the sport has witnessed its first clergyman competitor.

The story is via The Times of Israel, a portion of their story has been included below.

“While he didn’t train on Saturdays, his coach said “he never quits” — even training on Friday morning before assuming his synagogue duties.

The Algemeiner quoted Eilfort as saying that he had entered the competition in order to promote the importance of fitness, security and safety in the Orthodox Jewish community.

Before he started to train, he had “never hit anyone in his life,” the report said.”

“The stalwart rabbi told Fox News he had begun to train because he relished the “physical, mental, personal challenge” of martial arts.”

One almost has to pinch themselves to make sure they’re not having a most unusual and bizarre dream.  I do wonder what his flock thinks of his newfound athletic interests, this seems like the sort of thing any traditional and religiously conservative congregation might be less than understanding towards.

For the record, I’m all for Rabbi Eilfort’s foray into the exceptional world of MMA.  I wholeheartedly agree that a men or women looking to challenge themselves in the most strenuous of physical and mental ways would be well-served to take up what is arguably the world’s most challenging sport.  I also happen to agree that MMA is the perfect vehicle to promote fitness and security.

In this piece I don’t mean to disparage Rabbi Eilfort, I think it’s a wonderful story.  I just happen to be struck by the seeming unlikelihood that religion and MMA would fit hand in hand.  This is certainly a first for me as a MMA writer, and perhaps a first for the sport—although it’s possible a cleric of some sort may have entered the confines of a cage somewhere at some point.


posted by FCF Staff @ 2:42 pm
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