Friday, February 19, 2010

Orthodox Jewish Boxer and Bar Mitzvah Boy In Battle For Yankee Stadium Turf

A headline on the sports page of The New York Times yesterday read "Bar Mitzvah May Complicate Plans for a Bout in the Bronx."  It could just as easily have read "Bout May Complicate Plans for a Bar Mitzvah in the Bronx."  It all depends on your point of view.

Oy, what a mess.  Two trains on the same track are heading for a collision in Yankee Stadium on the night of June 5!  It seems that the lead bond lawyer for the financing of the new stadium reserved the stadium and use of the giant scoreboard in center field for that night, and the Yankees are also negotiating with boxing promoter Bob Arum for a big bout the same night.

The main event would feature Yuri Foreman, the World Boxing Association’s 154-pound champion, against Miguel Cotto.  That is, unless you're not a boxing fan and think that the real main event is the Bar Mitzvah reception for the son of lawyer Jonathan Ballan.

So what's the problem?  Foreman is an Orthodox Jew and rabbinical student and the bout is scheduled for Saturday night, after Shabbat.  Because Shabbat ends at a late hour in June, the promoters plan for the boxing match to start at 11:30 pm.  By then, the Bar Mitzvah should be in full swing, and a conflict could arise if the scoreboard flashes baby pictures of the Bar Mitzvah boy when the crowd expects boxing-related information.

Writing in the Times, Ken Belson reports:
Foreman, an observant Jew, has a large following in New York. His fight would not begin before 11:30 p.m., so the Foreman fans who are Orthodox could get to the stadium after the Sabbath ends at sunset.
The Yankees are negotiating with Ballan and expect to reach an agreement by the end of this week. The price of the bar mitzvah is at issue, Arum said.
To sweeten the deal, Arum offered everyone in the bar mitzvah party seats for the fight. Foreman has agreed to meet the bar mitzvah boy in his dressing room before the fight. Arum said the Yankees would give the bar mitzvah boy and his friends autographed baseballs. In effect, the most powerful team in professional sports and the country’s most prominent boxing promoter are negotiating with a bar mitzvah boy.
“The bar mitzvah saga continues,” Arum said.
And so does the boxing saga of Yuri Foreman as he fights his way to the welterweight title.
To get some insight into the world of Yuri Foreman, boxer and rabbinical student, check out the video below.

(A tip of the kippah to Richard Latkin for calling our attention to this story.)


  1. Great Story!

    Become a Fan of Yuri Foreman Here:

  2. I respect Yuri for his recent conversion to judaism, Rabbi Raskin did a great job.