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Dmitriy Salita

Dmitriy was born in 1982 in Odessa, Ukraine. His family moved to Brooklyn in 1991 to escape various forms of discrimination against Jews, and provide Dmitriy and his brother Michael with a better future. But the early experiences were not easy. Dmitriy explains in the film, "In the beginning my family struggled, we were on welfare and food stamps. Kids made fun of me. I wore bad clothes. I got into a lot of fights, a lot of arguments, and then at the age of 13 my brother and I started to discuss the idea of boxing." The Starrett City Boxing Gym, located in the rough neighborhood of East New York, provided a sanctuary for Dmitriy to work out his frustrations as an immigrant, but most importantly, gave him a first community. "I wanted to break out of that level of poverty that we were at, and that social level that we were at, so I could relate to all of the fighters in the gym, and the boxers who made it, and came from other struggling backgrounds. The gym gave me a good sense of being." As he began to excel in the sport, his mother Lyudmilla became sick with cancer, eventually succumbing to the disease after a long battle. Boxing again provided an outlet for him to deal with his emotions. "It helped me lock out the pain and give me a purpose. I knew that I was winning and I knew it was something that I had, that kept me feeling good." Like most Russian Jews, Dmitriy and his family were non-practicing, but, he says, "The anxiety of entering the ring helped me develop a personal spiritual relationship." While his mother was being treated at Sloan-Kettering Hospital, she shared a room with an Orthodox Jewish woman. Dmitriy shared his interest in Judaism with the woman's husband, and he directed Dmitriy to the local Chabad Synagogue. Chabad is a branch of Orthodox Judaism dedicated to outreach to secular Jews, especially to Brooklyn's Russian community. It is through the Chabad of Flatbush, and Rabbi Zalman Liberov, that Dmitriy began to observe Orthodox Judaism. While becoming Sabbath observant and keeping kosher, Dmitriy won the New York City Golden Gloves and the US Under-19 Amateur National Championship at 139-lbs. In winning the national championship, the tournament made concessions for his religious observance by moving his final fight from Friday night to after sundown on Saturday night. Rather than face future scheduling conflicts at amateur tournaments, Dmitriy turned professional and signed a three year contract with Bob Arum, a Jewish promoter, that stipulated he would never have to fight on the Sabbath or any other Jewish holiday, a first among professional athletes.

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Orthodox Stance

$24.95 | 82 minutes

(2007)
Starring as Himself

A NY TIMES Critic's Pick! For the last 60 years, the term "Jewish boxer" has been an oxymoron. But Dmitriy Salita, a 25 year-old Russian immigrant is making history as a top professional boxer and a rigorously observant Jew. While providing&hellip…

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Cover art

Orthodox Stance - ON DEMAND

$3.99 | 82 minutes

(2007)

A NY TIMES Critic's Pick! For the last 60 years, the term "Jewish boxer" has been an oxymoron. But Dmitriy Salita, a 25 year-old Russian immigrant is making history as a top professional boxer and a rigorously observant Jew. While providing&hellip…

buy nowmore info
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Orthodox Stance - DOWNLOAD

$11.99 | 82 minutes

(2007)

A NY TIMES Critic's Pick! For the last 60 years, the term "Jewish boxer" has been an oxymoron. But Dmitriy Salita, a 25 year-old Russian immigrant is making history as a top professional boxer and a rigorously observant Jew. While providing&hellip…

buy nowmore info