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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Jewish Olympic Boxers

With the Tokyo Games approaching, here is an incomplete list of some Jewish boxers who fought in the Olympics over the years. For Jewish boxing medalists, see this post.





 Weight Class


 Matt Wells


 Great Britain


 Beat Abe Attell as a pro

 Ben Bril




 Holocaust survivor

 Harry Mizler


 Great Britain


 British 135lb champ

 Ivan Duke


 South Africa


 aka Isaac Tich

 Shlomo Niazov




 4-1 (4 KOs) as a pro

 Yehuda Ben-Haim

 1984, ‘88 


 light fly

 1-0 as a pro

 Yacov Shmuel




 7-0 as a pro

 Aharon Jacobashvili




 lost to Sven Ottke

 Vladislav Neiman




 now 55 years old

 Pavlo Ishchenko




 3-0 as a pro

Additional notes:
Matt Wells fought at least 85 times as a pro. He beat Attell and Leach Cross by newspaper decision and out-pointed Freddie Welsh for the European lightweight title (and staked a claim to the world title as a result), all in 1911. He beat another Hall of Famer, Owen Moran, in 1913. From then on, Wells lost his biggest fights. World title challenger and fellow Jew Charley White beat Wells in 4 out of 5 fights. Another world title challenger Jimmy Duffy defeats Wells twice. Well also dropped a fight to Ted "Kid" Lewis in 1919.

Ben Bril was one of the youngest Olympic boxers in history. He never turned pro. He was interred in Bergen Belsen during the Holocaust. Bril lived until 2003 and died at the age of 91.

Harry Mizler lost in the Olympics to fellow Jew Nat Bor. Born Hyman, Mizler had at least 81 pro bouts and won over 60 of them. He lost the British lightweight title to Jackie "Kid" Berg.

Yehuda Ben-Haim's first match in the 1988 Olympics was scheduled for Yom Kippur. He was eliminated when he didn't fight on the holiday. He also fought in the 1986 world championships. He died at the age of 56 in 2012.

Yacov Shmuel (sometimes written Ya'acov) is a boxing trainer in Israel. Check him out on  Instagram.

Aharon Jacobashvili, born in the country of Georgia, never turned pro. Sven Ottker was a three-time Olympian, won a world title as a pro, and retired with a 34-0 record.

Pavlo Ishchenko last fought professionally in 2016.

Waldemar Holberg is sometimes included on lists of Jewish boxing Olympians. A forthcoming article will explain his absence from this list.


  1. For a complete history of notable Jewish boxers from 1890 to 1955, including 166 biographies check out the book, "Stars in the Ring: Jewish Champions in the Golden Age of Boxing" (2016 Rowman & Littlefield Publishers). Includes over 200 photos.

  2. Mr. Silver's Stars in the Ring is a valuable resource for this blog and worth adding to any boxing fan's library, especially those who follow Jewish boxing. https://amzn.to/38jynvj