Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Boxer Keeps Watch on a Fight for Life [New York Times]

Mitch Abramson, New York Times --

The noise of an incoming missile sounds like “Whoomp!” according to Andrey Foreman of Haifa, Israel. He salutes the rocket’s red glare with a shot of vodka from his fifth-floor balcony.
In Brooklyn, the sound of CNN and that of laughter, mostly at the expense of the correspondent Anderson Cooper, who wore a bulletproof vest during a telecast from Haifa, reverberates from the home of Andrey’s son, Yuri Foreman.
“How is that vest going to save him from a missile?” Yuri joked.
Since two Israeli soldiers were abducted by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah on July 12, Yuri, an undefeated junior-middleweight boxer who was born in Belarus and reared in Haifa, has been watching from his home in Cobble Hill as a war unfolds.
Haifa, a port city in northern Israel of about 267,000, has received a torrent of rocket attacks from Hezbollah in Lebanon. Air-raid sirens and plumes of smoke are plentiful.
Seven years ago, Yuri, who will turn 26 on Aug. 5, left Haifa to pursue a professional boxing career in the United States and to escape scenes like that. His initial steps after he moved were awkward ones — from a low-paying job in the garment district in Manhattan to problems with boxing promoters — but he has gained his footing.
At 21-0 with eight knockouts, he is on the verge of stardom, but he would give almost anything to be back in Israel with his father, who turned 46 last Tuesday.
“I would rather be there,” said Yuri, who won three Israeli national championships as an amateur. “I’m here doing my boxing career, and my dad is back in Israel. Every day is difficult. All I can do is sit here and watch the news and speak to him on the phone and speak to my friends. I told him I wanted to join the army to do some fighting. I want to help.”
His father told him the army did not need a boxer to lead the charge.
“Your war is in the boxing ring,” Andrey told Yuri during one of their daily conversations. “When you are in the ring, it’s like you are fighting for Israel.”