An Orthodox rabbi from California won his first amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) match by a technical knockout (TKO) in the second round, Fox News reported Tuesday.
Rabbi Yossi Eilfort, 22, began to train with Cameroonian MMA fighter and judo specialist Thierry Sokoudjou after taking an interest in martial arts.
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.
“It was very uncomfortable hitting someone,” Eilfort told Fox News. “I actually held back.”
Eilfort reportedly befriended a Krav Maga instructor in 2002, but only entered his first competition — called an “octagon” — six months ago, after training with Sokoudjou at Team Quest Gym in Encinitas, California.
The stalwart rabbi told Fox News he had begun to train because he relished the “physical, mental, personal challenge” of martial arts.
He turned out to be a revelation, despite having to miss out on a last round of preparation before the match in order to observe the Sabbath.
“I never thought that a rabbi would be interested in fighting. But I was stoked,” his coach, who joked about dubbing him “The Rabbi” on the fight bill, said.