Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Kosher Kid' Ready to Go Faith to Faith with Khan

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Kosher Kid' Ready to Go Faith to Faith with Khan

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith

Jewish New Yorker Dmitriy Salita faces Muslim Amir Khan this weekend -- but religion is the furthest issue from either man's mind.

By David Smith THERE was always potential for inflammatory rabble rousing once promoter Frank Warren had confirmed that Amir Khan, a devout Muslim, would make the first defence of his WBA world light-welterweight title against Dmitriy Salita, an Orthodox Jew.

So it is to the great credit of the two boxers that ahead of tomorrow's fight at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle the only references they have made to their religions have been laced with respect and understanding.

A blogger on the website of the Starrett City Boxing Club in New York, where Ukrainian immigrant Salita became steeped in the sport, summed it up well. He wrote: "One would think that Khan and Salita would've played up the religious angle to draw tickets sales. But no stones or insults have been thrown by either fighter. They've shown nothing but pure class and sportsmanship."

On this side of the Atlantic we have always known that 22-year-old Khan was a class act. In the wake of his success both as an amateur, winning silver at the Athens Olympics in 2004, and as a professional, winning 21 of his 22 paid fights, he built a gym in his home town of Bolton that has an open-door policy towards local youth looking for purpose and direction.

Salita is also a role model who contributes a cut of each purse to his own charity, Shield of David. This supports the Jewish community of Flatbush in Brooklyn, where the 'Kosher Kid' worships, and the nearby Starrett City Boxing Club, where he has trained since the age of 13.

Gym founder Jimmy O'Pharrow has honed a rare boxing talent. Now in his eighties, Jimmy 'O' said: "My gym's like a league of nations. I've seen every kind of kid come through the doors, but I ain't never seen one like this Dmitriy.

"Kid looks Russian, prays Jewish, and fights black."

Salita's faith was born out of a chance meeting in 1999 with a member of a Jewish sect at the hospital where his mother was dying of breast cancer. …

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