In the latest of our line-up of unique speakers, the Global Diaspora Series, former boxer and boxing promoter, Dmitriy Salita (AKA The Star Of David) spoke to sports journalist Sarah Shephard.
As with all our Global Jewish Conversations, the audience was invited to ask questions, participate and carry on the discussions – and in this online format we welcomed people from all over the world to spark a truly global conversation.
Supported by Genesis Philanthropy Group.
Dmitriy Salita, a 38-year-old former welterweight and junior welterweight boxer, is an Orthodox Jewish boxing promoter. Salita got involved with his faith after moving from Ukraine to Brooklyn when he was 9 years old, feeling inspired by the religious freedom America offered. A great portion of his career as a boxer, and now as a promoter, has been guided by Judaism. During his time as a boxer, he refused to fight on the Sabbath, nicknamed himself "The Star of David," and wore a yarmulke everywhere except while in the ring.
After losing his first fight, Salita visited Israel in search of inspiration, and upon returning home to Brooklyn, he touched base with Emanuel Steward, a renowned trainer. Salita visited Emanuel Steward in Detroit to work with him at the Kronk Gym, staying for two weeks, and returning back multiple times. However, because he felt that boxing was too unpredictable, in 2013, after his last fight, Salita decided to switch gears and start his own company, Salita Promotions, which organizes fight cards and events.
Running his company as an Orthodox Jew, Salita has run into some challenges, such as prohibitions on technology and handling money during the Sabbath. Just as he could not fight on the Sabbath, Salita also cannot attend his fighters’ matches on the holy day.
Sarah Shephard is an editor at The Athletic and the author of three books including the Sunday Times bestselling autobiography of Olympic gymnast and Strictly Come Dancing winner Louis Smith (Orion, 2013), Kicking Off: How Women in Sport are Changing the Game (Bloomsbury, 2016) and the autobiography of Ruqsana Begum; Born Fighter (to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2020). She spent 10 years at Sport magazine, during which time she covered three Olympic Games, interviewed many of the world’s biggest sports stars, and wrote in-depth features on topics as wide-ranging as racism in football, the gold rush in Great Britain’s Olympic fortunes, and doping in sport.
She has since spent two years as deputy head of content at The Coaches' Voice website and written for The Times (sport and T2), Times Magazine, the Independent and the Guardian. In 2016, she was named Journalist of the Year at the Women’s Sport Trust Awards.