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Friday, March 22, 2024

Two Jewish Fighters Compete in Ring Masters

Following in the tradition of the defunct New York Golden Gloves, the Ring Masters amateur championships brings together the New York area's best boxers in the unpaid ranks. Two Jewish fighters have made it deep into this year's tournament. Rebecca Goldberg will fight in the finals of the 146 elite division at Madison Square Garden next month. David Malul hopes to join Goldberg at MSG. He fights in the semifinals of the 147 novice class tomorrow (Saturday, March 23) at 4pm on his home turf at John's Boxing Gym in the Bronx.

Goldberg, a 34 year old physician assistant in orthopedic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, is a boxer whose background in soccer helped her develop her style in the ring. She thinks and moves behind an educated jab. The main criticism her trainer, Jose Guzman, gives her is "to be angrier."

Malul is a 21 year old real estate broker from Queens. Always a sports fan, he dreamed of success as an athlete, but needed to find the right sport. At 16, he took up boxing at John's when it was located on Jerome Avenue. He quickly realized that with the right trainers, he could be great, so he enlisted Mike Stellati and Angel Torres to guide his career.

Goldberg started boxing eight or nine years ago as a way to support her friend who wanted to get in better shape for her own wedding. The friend had a GroupOn to Mendez Boxing Gym. "After the wedding, she stopped, I stayed," Goldberg told The Jewish Boxing Blog in a phone interview.

She instantly felt a connection with the sport. "You're never gonna be perfect," she said. "I believe no one's a true boxing master. There's always something to learn, something you can build on." Guzman told Goldberg that she trained like a fighter and pushed her to compete, which only created a greater love for the sport. "When you win, it's the greatest feeling. When you lose, you want to get it back. It's an unbreakable cycle."

While many coaches protect their fighters, Guzman encouraged Goldberg to accept challenges. In her third amateur fight, she took on an opponent with a dozen more bouts of experience. Still with Guzman, but now representing Victory Boxing Club after her old gym became a casualty of the pandemic, this is Goldberg's fourth Ring Masters and she acknowledges, "It's nice being the one with experience now."

This is Malul's first Ring Masters. "Family and Israel fuel me to fight in the ring," he told The Jewish Boxing Blog on the phone as he prepared for Shabbat. David was especially gracious with his time as he is in the process of cutting weight before tomorrow's weigh-in and semifinal bout.

Malul has had a tough draw on the road to the semis. "I've had lots of obstacles, lots of opponents in this tournament." But Ring Masters has given him the opportunity to showcase his talent and support his people, two important motivations.

Goldberg said, "I've been chasing this tournament." Her dream is to compete at the National Golden Gloves, and Ring Masters serves as a qualifying tournament. Last year, she lost in the finals at the Garden. Should she achieve her dream this year, she'll take things as they come.

For Malul, "The sky's the limit." His goal is to turn professional. "First thing's first, I've got to win this tournament." If he can make it to MSG, he aims to win in front of his family, the people he loves.

Though the name has changed, the tradition of Jewish fighters competing and thriving in New York's most glamorous amateur boxing tournament remains the same.

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