Yuri Foreman (born August 5, 1980) is an Israeli professional boxer and former WBA super welterweight champion. He was born in Gomel, Belarus, but currently fights out of Brooklyn, New York.[1]


Yuri Foreman was born in Gomel, Belarus, then part of the Soviet Union. He started out as a swimmer, but his mother signed him up for boxing lessons at age seven after he experienced bullying and beatings. At age nine, he immigrated with his family to Israel.[2] Boxing was not popular in Israel and there were few boxing gyms so he trained at an Arab gym. On his early days in boxing, Foreman said:

The first time I walked in, I saw the stares. In their eyes, there was a lot of hatred. But I needed to box; and boy, did they all want to box me. After a while, the wall that was between us melted. We all wanted the same thing. I traveled with them as teammates. It helped that I won almost all the time. And finally, we became friends."[3]

In Israel he became an amateur boxer and won three national boxing championships.[4] In 1999, Foreman moved to Brooklyn, New York.[2] He stated that the only reason he came to the United States was to pursue his dream of a professional boxing career, and saw no further opportunity to do so in Israel.[5] His first job was in the Garment District in Manhattan, where he made deliveries and swept the floors for a clothing store. At the same time, he began training at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, where he met his future wife, Leyla Leidecker, a Hungarian model and amateur boxer.[3]

Amateur career

In 2000, Foreman lost the New York Golden Gloves in the final,[6] but came back in 2001 to win the tournament.[2][4] During his amateur career, Foreman compiled a 75–5 record.[3]

Professional career

At the onset of his professional career, Foreman's management team was unsuccessful procuring appropriate fights. Foreman struggled financially.[6] Around 2004, Foreman met Murray Wilson who became his manager. Wilson signed Foreman up with Bob Arum's Top Rank promotion company.[6]

Light middleweight

On June 3, 2006, Foreman defeated Jesus Felipe Valverde, but tore ligaments in his left hand in the process.[7] His next scheduled fight was June 9, 2007 facing the favored Anthony Thompson (23 (17 KOs)-2-0) of Philadelphia in Madison Square Garden on the undercard of the Miguel Cotto-Zab Judah fight.[8][9] Prior to the fight, Foreman moved his training grounds from Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn to Joe Grier's gym in Paterson, New Jersey.[8] Foreman won a tactical 10-round split decision, with the scores 97–93 and 96–94 for Foreman, and 96–94 for Thompson.[9] In September 2007, he was ranked as the 8th-best welterweight (67 kg, or 147 pounds) challenger by the World Boxing Association.[citation needed]

In December 2007, Foreman won a 10-round split decision over Andrey Tsurkan (25–3; 16 KOs), to take the North American Boxing Federation super welterweight title from him at the Paradise Theater on Grand Concourse in The Bronx, New York City.[10]

In April 2008 he beat 28–4–0 Saúl Román in a unanimous decision. While training for the fight, he was also studying to become a rabbi.[6] In October 2008, he defeated Vinroy Barrett (22–7, 11 KOs) from Kingston, Jamaica on the Hopkins-Pavlik undercard.

Foreman defeated James Moore (16–1; 10 KOs), in a 10-round unanimous decision for Foreman’s NABF title at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on December 13, 2008. In the five outings leading up to the Moore fight, Foreman won decisions over fighters with a cumulative record of 118–17–2.[11]

WBA title

Foreman (left) and Cotto at the official weigh-in on June 4, 2010.

On November 14, 2009, Foreman defeated Daniel Santos by a 12-round unanimous decision to become the new WBA super welterweight champion and Israel's first WBA champion.[12] He also became Israel's first world boxing champion.[12] In early January 2010, Foreman began talks with Bob Arum to arrange for himself and Filipino boxer seven-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, to meet on March 13, 2010. However, Pacquiao rejected the offer.

Foreman fought Miguel Cotto on June 5, 2010, the first fight to take place at the new Yankee Stadium. Foreman went down from a slip in the 7th round when his already braced, right knee buckled. He got back to his feet and continued fighting despite heavily favoring the knee. After a few more falls from the knee giving out and Cotto beginning to land, Foreman's trainer Joe Grier threw in the towel midway through the 8th round. The ring filled with both camps and officials. Cotto and Foreman embraced, thinking it was over. Feeling that Foreman was in no immediate danger, however, Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. asked him if he wanted to continue, and he did. While the crowd was not sure what was happening, the ring was cleared after a delay of a couple of minutes and the fight resumed with about half the round remaining. Cotto landed a left hook to the body and Foreman went down 42 seconds into the 9th round and Mercante called off the fight. In interviews after the fight, Cotto said "He was working on one leg, but I still kept fighting.”[13]

When asked why he continued after injuring his leg, Foreman said: "I'm a world champion – now a former world champion – and you don't just quit ... A world champion needs to keep on fighting." A week after the fight, Foreman underwent surgery on his right knee to repair a torn ACL and Meniscus and to remove torn cartilage around his knee joint. The injury which had occurred when he was 15 years old, was aggravated during the bout. Foreman was told by doctors to take off for a year, but was boxing again nine months later.[14] On March 2, 2011, he battled Polish Light Middleweight boxer Pawel Wolak, and lost.[14] Shortly after the fight, Foreman said he wasn't sure if he was going to continue fighting or retire.[15]

After a 22-month layoff, Foreman was victorious in his return to the ring on Lou DiBella's Broadway Boxing card at BB Kings in Manhattan, NY on January 23, 2013.[16] Yuri won the 6-round bout by unanimous decision. On April 4, 2013, Foreman again emerged victorious by winning a six round bout. He defeated Gundrick King by unanimous decision in the junior middleweight division at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC.

Jewish heritage and rabbinic studies

Foreman, "the first Orthodox Jew to own a world title since Barney Ross held championships in two divisions in 1935",[17] is one of three top contemporary Jewish boxers. The others are Dmitry Salita (30–1–1),[18][19] a junior welterweight, and heavyweight Roman Greenberg (27–1–0).[3]

“I thought at first that people were pulling my leg. Mike Marley said that Yuri was becoming a Rabbi. But that's true, he is. So I see Jim Borzell out there, and Jim handles John Duddy. 'So,' I said to Borzell, 'can you get John to go to Seminary? What a fight, a Priest against a Rabbi, and I'll get somebody from Nevada who’s Mormon to referee the fight.'”[20]

Bob Arum

In the post-fight interview of his December 2007 win over Andrey Tsurkan, Foreman raised his hands and wished the television audience a happy Chanukah.[21] Foreman, who wears a Star of David on his boxing trunks, is an aspiring rabbi. "Boxing is sometimes spiritual in its own way", he said. "You have the physical and mental challenges in boxing, just like you have lots of challenges in exploring the different levels of Judaism. They are different but the same."[21]

Foreman studies the Talmud and Jewish mysticism in the morning, trains for boxing in the afternoon and attends rabbinical classes twice a week at the IYYUN Institute, a Jewish educational center in Gowanus. "Yuri is a very good student", said Rabbi DovBer Pinson, an author and lecturer who is Foreman's teacher. "Most people (in the class) who find out that he's a boxer are very surprised. He doesn't have that boxing personality, at least in the perception of what a boxer is. He's not the rough kid on the block. He's a sweet, easy-going kid."[21]

Foreman is currently studying at a Brooklyn yeshiva, and is preparing to be ordained as an Orthodox rabbi. He has stated that he intends to return to Israel and serve as a rabbi there, and occasionally leave Israel to box abroad.[22][23]

TV and film

Foreman has appeared numerous times in nationally televised fights on ESPN, Showtime, HBO and Versus, and on talk shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He appeared in the film Fighting, which starred Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard.[21]


Foreman's wife since 2004, Leyla Leidecker,[4] a native of Hungary who converted to Judaism, is making a documentary about women's amateur boxing in the Golden Gloves.[21] The couple has two sons.[24]

Professional record

33 Wins (9 knockouts), 2 Losses, 0 Draw, 1 NC
Result Record Opponent Type Rd., Time Date Location Notes
Win 33-2 (1) United States Lenwood Dozier UD 8 2015-12-05 United States Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
Win 32–2 (1) Mexico Jovany Javier Gomez KO 1 (8) 1:56 2013-11-12 United States Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida
Win 31–2 (1) United States Jamaal Davis UD 8 2013-07-24 United States Roseland Ballroom, New York
Win 30–2 (1) United States Gundrick King UD 6 2013-04-04 United States Roseland Ballroom, New York
Win 29–2 (1) United States Brandon Baue UD 6 2013-01-23 United States BB King Blues Club & Grill, New York
Loss 28–2 (1) Poland Pawel Wolak RTD 6 (10) 3:00 2011-03-12 United States MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada
Loss 28–1 (1) Puerto Rico Miguel Cotto TKO 9 (12) 0:42 2010-06-05 United States Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York Lost WBA World Super welterweight title.
Win 28–0 (1) Puerto Rico Daniel Santos UD 12 2009-11-14 United States MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada Won WBA World Super welterweight title.
NC 27–0 (1) United States Cornelius Bundrage ND 3 (12) 2009-06-27 United States Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey IBF Light Middleweight Title Eliminator
Win 27–0 Republic of Ireland James Moore UD 10 2008-12-13 United States Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey Retained NABF Super welterweight title.
Win 26–0 Jamaica Vinroy Barrett UD 10 2008-10-18 United States Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 25–0 Mexico Saúl Román UD 10 2008-04-03 United States Aviator Sports Complex, Brooklyn, New York Retained NABF Super welterweight title.
Win 24–0 Ukraine Andrey Tsurkan SD 10 2007-12-06 United States Paradise Theater, Bronx, New York Won NABF Super welterweight title.
Win 23–0 United States Anthony Thompson SD 10 2007-06-09 United States Madison Square Garden, New York


  1. ^ Orthodox Jewish boxers score a hit, Haaretz
  2. ^ a b c Ritter, Adam. "Interview". New York Cool. Retrieved June 21, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d Hauser, Thomas. "The Haifa Connection: Roman Greenberg and Yuri Foreman". SecondsOut. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Farrell, Bill (2007). Cradle of Champions: 80 Years of New York Daily News Golden Gloves. Sports Publishing. p. 169. ISBN 978-1-59670-205-9. 
  5. ^ http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3890426,00.html
  6. ^ a b c d Braziller, Zachary (April 3, 2008). "The Tale of the Tape and the Talmud". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ Abramson, Phil (July 5, 2006). "Boxer Keeps Watch on a Fight for Life". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ a b Songalig, Ryan (June 5, 2007). ""The Word" Featuring Yuri Foreman". boxingscene.com. 
  9. ^ a b Rafael, Dan (June 10, 2007). "Soto scores dominant KO over Pacquiao in 7th round". ESPN. 
  10. ^ "Foreman remains undefeated with split decision over Tsurkan". Associated Press. December 12, 2007. 
  11. ^ "Yuri Foreman vs. James Moore on December 13 in AC". BoxingScene.com. October 27, 2008. Retrieved April 13, 2010. 
  12. ^ a b Sagi, Yehoshua (November 16, 2009). "Yuri Foreman takes world title with TKO". Haaretz. 
  13. ^ Bishop, Greg (June 6, 2010). "Cotto Stops Foreman in Ninth Round". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ a b Woods, Michael (December 8, 2011). "Yuri Foreman is in comeback mode". ESPN. 
  15. ^ Dower, Jim (March 13, 2011). "Foreman unable to handle Wolak's pressure". BoxingNews24.com. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  16. ^ Boxing 101,"Yuri Foreman Better With Feet Than Fists In Victorious Ring Return", January 24, 2013
  17. ^ "Ready to Rumble: Boxing Rabbi Foreman Works Out at Gleason's Gym", May 27, 2010 by John Torenli, BrooklynEagle.com, Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
  18. ^ Shefler, Gil (September 9, 2009). "Devoutly Jewish fighters hoping titles will silence critics". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 
  19. ^ Lerner, Evan. "Mazel Tough". New York. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Glick, Jerry, "Pavlik-Taylor II: The Hype Begins", SecondsOut.com, accessed 12/29/07". Secondsout.com. February 16, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2011. 
  21. ^ a b c d e Abramson, Mitch (December 11, 2007). "Rabbi-d tenacity: Foreman mixes religion with boxing". Daily News (New York). 
  22. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/sports/boxing-yuri-foreman-takes-world-title-with-tko-1.4097
  23. ^ "Orthodox Jewish ex-champ makes boxing comeback". Haaretz/The Forward. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  24. ^ [1]

Professional championships

Preceded by
Daniel Santos
WBA Super Welterweight Champion
November 14, 2009 – June 5, 2010
Succeeded by
Miguel Cotto