Born to a Hindu family in Mumbai, Sarah Avraham became Israel’s new women’s Thai boxing champion last week, taking another step in her bizarre journey that started with a terror attack in 2008.
Avraham’s father, Dr. Aaron Avraham, was the friend and family physician to Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, who were killed in November 2008, when terrorists attacked the Chabad House where they served as emissaries.
While much of the world expressed shock and outrage at the cold-blooded murder, Sarah, then 14, and her family found themselves drawn in closer to the Jewish people. So close, in fact, that they converted to Judaism and immigrated to Israel one year after the attack, settling in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba.
Sarah’s father began working in the Intensive Care Unit of Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, and Sarah began studying in the religious girls school in Kiryat Arba, where she decided to take up sports.
Fitness trainer Michael Pollack, from the Jewish neighborhood in neighboring Hebron, recognized Sarah’s intense desire to succeed, and he decided to quickly integrate her training with kickboxing.
Pollack said that when he saw Sarah’s potential, he put her in touch with Thai boxing coach Eddie Yusopov. Last week, barely a year after she began training professionally, Sarah won the national women’s Thai boxing championship.
Ironically (or perhaps not), Sarah’s first and last names are those of the world’s first Jews. Abraham and Sarah are traditionally revered for a strength and steadfast faith in the Lord that merited the perpetuation of the Jewish people. They are believed to be buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
“She draws her strength from where we live in Kiryat Arba,” said Sarah’s trainer, Pollack. “This gives her an inner strength that explodes in the ring.”
For her part, Sarah doesn’t see herself giving up boxing, but that doesn’t preclude other plans for her future. “When I grow up,” she was quoted in Maariv as saying, “I might want to be a doctor, like my father.”