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Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Dmitriy Salita: The Promoter

On a typical Friday in the fall of 2016, before the sun sets to mark the beginning of Shabbos, Dmitriy Salita purchases The Wall Street Journal to read over the weekend. A brief article about a two-time Olympic gold medalist catches his eye. In many ways, that moment has not only shaped Salita's post-fighting career but also the trajectory of women's boxing.
Dmitriy Salita
After a pro boxing career that lasted from 2001-2013, Dmitriy Salita (35-2-1, 18 KOs) needed to find something new. After reading that article about Claressa Shields, Salita tells The Jewish Boxing Blog, "As they say, the rest is history."

If the 27 year old Shields retired today, the 13-0 "GWOAT" is a surefire Hall of Famer. In addition to her two Olympic gold medals, she has held world title belts in three weight divisions and has become the undisputed world champion in the junior middleweight and middleweight divisions.

In her second pro fight, Shields became the first woman to headline a premium television card when she was featured in the main event of a 2017 Showtime show. She hasn't been the last. Salita believes, "She is the right woman at the right time."


"The Good Lord gives us talent. I love boxing. I love every aspect of being a promoter," Salita declares. 

His first promoter was Bob Arum, for whom Salita has tremendous respect. "I was exposed to the highest level early in my career," Dmitriy says. "Being a wondrous kid, I wanted to know how everything works." After studying Top Rank's operation, he would promote some of his own later fights.

Salita says his experience as a professional boxer has helped his work as a promoter tremendously. "There is often a disconnect between the business side and the athletics side. Many smart businessmen have come into boxing and failed. There are many details they don't take the time to learn. Boxing is a unique business."

When asked for the toughest part about being a promoter, he responds with a chuckle, "Most of it is tough." It's a hard business. Those who have done it for many years have an advantage because they possess the necessary connections.

"I'm knocking on the door. I'm getting a seat at the table," Salita says before pausing for a beat and continuing with bemusement, "But I'm not invited!" He's quick to add, "I have a good working relationship with the other promoters."

He is very confident in his new profession. "I have an eye and an ability to identify talent," he says.  "Of all the top promoters, I have the most talent [for this]."

Dmitriy understands how far he has come and just how improbable his story is. "I grew up in Odessa in the Soviet Union. I came to this great country; I was on welfare, food stamps. And here I am now."


In addition to Shields, Salita has helped bring heavyweight Otto Wallin to world level thanks to a tough fight with heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in 2019. He has also guided the career of heavyweight Jarrell Miller, who had been set to challenge Anthony Joshua for the heavyweight title before failed PED tests halted his progression. Developing fighters is the most satisfying part of the job for Salita.

Another heavyweight in his stable is Jermaine Franklin, who recently traveled to England to fight former world title beltholder Dillian Whyte on November 26. Two days before, Salita made headlines at the press conference.

During the staredown between Whyte and Franklin, Dmitriy stood to Franklin's right. Franklin, Whyte, and Whyte's promoter Eddie Hearn looked like giant skyscrapers while Dmitriy resembled something like a single family home.

Salita told SecondsOut, "Dillian was trying to intimidate Jermaine, and I said, 'He's staring right back at you.'" Whyte then pushed Dmitriy, and Dmitriy pushed him right back. In many ways, that moment has best represented Salita's career as a promoter. He may get pushed by the big guys, but he'll push right back.

"I'm allergic to being bullied," Salita tells The JBB. "And Whyte tried to bully me when he pushed me."

Video of the exchange went viral. But instead of focusing on Dmitriy's feisty courage, the social media trolls, bots, and bigots peddled in the old anti-Semitic tropes of supposed Jewish wealth and power. The hateful comments masqueraded as "jokes," although one wonders if those claiming comedy understand the concept of a joke.

A religious Jew, Dmitriy proudly wears a kippah in public. It's a source of strength, but can also make him a target.

At the fight, in Wembley Arena, Dmitriy says a man in the third row yelled threatening anti-Jewish comments at him. Dmitriy noticed that security soon ejected the man, a step in the right direction. "It shows that kind of thing isn't accepted," he notes.


Despite the obstacles and the odds, Dmitriy Salita continues to make a name in boxing. He's banging on the door, bringing his own chair, and forging his own spot at the sport's proverbial table. 

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