Late on Tuesday night, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and rapper Matisyahu were speaking together outside of the men’s room at a Brighton Beach event hall.
The pop Hasidic rabbi, author of “Kosher Sex” and former star of TLC’s “Shalom in the Home”, and the Hasidic pop star, who once sang on Letterman in a fedora, had come to the heart of Russian Brooklyn to watch their mutual friend, Orthodox Jewish boxer Dmitriy Salita, win his 33rd career fight.
Salita, who boasts a professional boxing record of 33-1, has rebounded since his stunning defeat in the second minute of his December 2009 light-welterweight title fight against world champion Amir Khan.
Salita has fought three times since, winning all of his bouts. No longer just a boxer, the young Ukranian-born New Yorker also promoted last night’s event, as he has two previous boxing cards since September.
Salita’s bout came at the end of a night of fights between heavy favorites and sometimes hapless contenders. In what was billed as the night’s co-headline bout, local favorite Luis Collazo, 29, defeated 35-year-old Franklin Gonzalez in a third-round TKO. Gonzalez slammed the mat in frustration as the referee stopped the match, then took a long while to get to his feet.
The headline fight ended after eight rounds in a unanimous decision in Salita’s favor. His opponent, Ronnie Warrior, Jr., had little support from the crowd.
“Vanilla can fight!” shouted one spectator.
“Dmitriy’s a good friend,” said Boteach after the fight. The rabbi said that he isn’t a particular fan of boxing, but that Salita often comes to his house for Friday night dinner. “What I salute about Dmitriy is his extremely proud Jewish identity,” he said.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.
Boteach, Matisyahu Get Chatty at Salita Boxing Match