If someone would have told me I was sitting next to a World Champion at one of the Shabbat dinner in Boerum Hill, I probably would have laughed. And that is exactly what I did when this sport reporter from NBC News pointed at Yuri Foreman telling me he was indeed the boxing World Champion he was talking about.
It happened so quickly I had no time to figure out then why could I see the tallit’s tails coming out of his button down shirt and why was he speaking Hebrew better than the Rabbi. This is because he is not only Israeli, but also a Jewish Orthodox boxer who, for obvious reason could not wear a beard, but did everything else (including studying the scriptures) to become a Rabbi in the nearest future.
“This was too good to be true,” I thought to my self and went along with the dinner quietly. “But this is also New York City, Baby, you do what you want here!”
Once at home I scouted the Internet to find everything possible on this Yuri guy. Little did I know, he is indeed a legend and he is going to fight the seven-time World Champ contender Miguel Cotto on June 5 at the Yankees Stadium. How did I not know this? Well, considering I am not usually on the sport beat, I figured maybe this was a lucky start in a very unfriendly city.
So, next time I were to meet Yuri I was going to ask him for an interview and some photos to publish in Italy.
And this is how I could get remotely close to him during his gym practice today. Well, the only downfall is that I wasn’t alone, 30 or so other reporter were invading Yuri’s space just outside the ring. We had to literally fight our way through to get closer and use the window light to our best advantage.
But the kicker was that I met a man who got me a Press Pass (deadline for those was May 14 and I met Yuri on May 16 for the first time and learned of his fame and pride on May 17) for the biggest boxing match of the season.
I couldn’t have asked for a better day!